Community brings us closer together and helps develop bonds with those around us. Communities come in all shapes and sizes and are all around us waiting for us to join them if we choose. A community can be a large or small group of people who share a common interest, characteristic, or location. It can be a group of individuals who interact and support each other, sharing their experiences, knowledge, and resources. Communities can also be formed around various factors such as culture, religion, language, geography, profession, hobby, or even interests.
This really hit this author as I sat at a free (by donation) Lions Club pancake breakfast this morning in a hall full of people that live in and love the small town I call home. Many of the people in the room you could tell were new(ish) to the community and many more you knew had been around awhile like me. I found out about the breakfast via an online community page and had heard about it from others who live in the community and it felt GOOD to be a part of this very small but important community building event.
In a community, members have a sense of belonging and mutual support, and they work together towards a common goal. This can involve sharing resources, helping each other, or advocating for change. Communities can be physical or virtual, and they can be organized or informal.
Why Community Is Important
Community is important for so many and for those that are involved in them it can be a very unique reason as to why it is a part of their lives.
Being a part of a community can provide people with a sense of belonging and support. Communities can offer social connections, which can reduce loneliness and isolation, and increase overall well-being. Members of a community can also provide each other with emotional support, practical help, and encouragement.
Communities can pool resources and knowledge, which can benefit everyone. Members can share skills, expertise, and resources, which can lead to greater efficiency and productivity. For example, a community garden can provide fresh produce to its members, and a professional community can share best practices and strategies.
Communities are known to work together to advocate for change and take action on issues that affect them. Members can collaborate to address local problems and implement solutions. For example, a neighborhood association can work to improve safety and beautify the area, and a social justice group can advocate for policies that promote equity and justice.
Communities can also help individuals form a sense of identity and culture. They can provide a shared history, values, and traditions, which can contribute to a sense of belonging and meaning. Communities can also help preserve cultural practices and traditions.
Types Of Communities
Communities come in so different forms that it really comes down to those that are involved in them to truly feel they are part of something larger than themselves which is a community.
- Geographic Communities: Geographic communities are based on physical location, such as a neighborhood, town, or city. Members of these communities are connected by their proximity to each other. This are likely the most common and well defined type of community that we are can all associate with and participate in.
- Virtual Communities: Virtual communities are based on online interaction and communication, such as social media groups, forums, and online gaming communities. These types of communities became very important to many during the recent Covid-19 pandemic that affected the entire world.
- Professional Communities: Professional communities are based on shared profession or industry, such as medical professionals, educators, or engineers.
- Interest-Based Communities: Interest-based communities are based on shared interests or hobbies, such as sports teams, book clubs, or art communities. Members of these communities share a passion or interest and can be formed by people that love the interest or even by those that actively participate in that interest.
- Cultural Communities: Cultural communities are based on shared cultural background or heritage, such as ethnic or religious communities. Members of these communities share a common history, language, or belief system.
- Advocacy Communities: Advocacy communities are based on shared values and goals, such as social justice or environmentalism. Members of these communities work together to promote a specific cause or issue.
- Support Communities: Support communities are based on providing support to members who are going through a difficult time, such as recovery from addiction or coping with mental health issues.
Regardless of the type of community you seek or are a part of it likely exists and is waiting for you to be a part of it. That’s the beautiful thing about communities; they are abundant and they want you to participate in them by design which in turn will help both you and them grow.
When You Are New To A Community
If you are new to a community and want to join and meet people, there are several ways to do so and each has its merits and ways in which it will help you get involved. The most important part of joining any new to us community is to be open minded and open to new experiences and relationships. As long as you are open then the possibilities are endless.
Some things you might consider if you are new to an area and are looking to participate in the local community:
- Look for local events, such as festivals, fairs, or concerts, and attend them. These events provide an opportunity to meet people and learn more about the community.
- Join a local club or organization that aligns with your interests or hobbies, such as a sports team, book club, or volunteer group. This is a great way to meet like-minded people and contribute to the community.
- Attend local community meetings, such as town hall meetings or neighborhood association meetings. These meetings provide an opportunity to learn about local issues and meet other community members.
- Volunteer for local organizations or events. This is a great way to meet people, contribute to the community, and learn new skills.
- Use social media platforms, such as Facebook or Meetup, to find local groups and events. These platforms provide an easy way to connect with people and learn about community events.
- Take a class or workshop in your community, such as a cooking class or art class. This is a great way to meet people with similar interests and learn new skills.
- Join a local community garden or farming cooperative. This is a great way to meet people, learn about sustainable agriculture, and contribute to the community.
- Join a local sport club or team – this might be the fastest way in my opinion to meet people when you are participating and competing together.
How Do You Help Develop a Community
There are several ways to help develop a community. Some of these ideas might be perfect for you or they might not apply and that is ok. The most important thing is to seek opportunities to connect and build bridges and those bridges are easist to build when it is over a shared interest, likes, or an effort towards a goal or an outcome.
You might want to consider:
- Identify people who share similar interests or goals and connect with them. Attend local events or join groups and organizations that align with your interests.
- Foster open communication and collaboration between community members. Encourage members to share ideas, experiences, and resources. Establish a platform or forum for communication and sharing.
- Encourage active participation and involvement of community members. Provide opportunities for members to contribute their skills and expertise. Recognize and appreciate the contributions of members.
- Identify and address issues and concerns that affect the community. Work with community members to develop solutions and strategies to address these issues.
- Celebrate the achievements and successes of the community. Recognize and appreciate the hard work and dedication of community members.
- Empower and engage youth in the community. Encourage them to take an active role in community development and decision-making.
- Engage with local government and other stakeholders to ensure that the needs and interests of the community are represented and addressed.
So Now What?
There is no set formula for developing a thriving community but there is one key ingredient that we all have in us to share – participation. The simple act in getting out and supporting those around you in what they create builds community. Showing up at a farmers market and supporting the artisans, producers and creators there builds community. Going to a pancake breakfast put on by your local rotary or Lions club builds community. As does just going out for a walk and stopping into your local small shop and supporting them via giving them your business instead of a big box – it all adds up to developing, growing and sustaining our communities that we need so much.