Building A Unique Community Culture
One of the best ways to further your learning in any subject is to gather with other like-minded people to explore a common interest.
Sharing stories & ideas gives you the opportunity to solidify what you understand about a subject, as well as hear many diverging ideas and opinions.
Being part of a community creates space to mentor others with our strengths and overcome our own weaknesses.
The emergence of unique learning culture in your local community comes with great rewards.
But where do you start?
What conditions create an effective learning culture?
How do you set it all up?
My Favorite Example Of Community Learning
My favorite example of emergent community took place while I was living on the west coast studying wilderness skills & nature education.
There were 5 other guys in my apprentice class.
One of them in particular was very passionate about creating a men’s gathering. After a bit of discussion we decided to have our first meeting.
Starting off we didn’t have any structure. There was nothing to guide us. All we had was our commitment to meet regularly and talk about what we were learning as men making our way in the world.
The outcome of this gathering was incredible and over the course of that year those guys really became like family to me.
We would share our discoveries of the natural world, our personal lives, spiritual lives, and it was always very supportive of each member.
It seemed as though this brotherhood emerged out of nothing, but there are actually some very concrete elements that make some community initiatives a great success, while others flop.
Community Element #1 Common Values
One of the most important things that contributes to the success of community initiatives is common values.
Anytime you weave connections between people there will be differing ideas, goals & intentions.
If those intentions aren’t lined up with each other then the group will fall apart.
There are however certain keystone values that will help to make the group energy flow much better.
Here are some examples:
- Open listening & acceptance
- Being curious rather than judgmental
- Commitment to learning and “The Path”
- Peaceful interaction
- Being a source of betterment for our greater community
- Long-term evolution
Experience has shown me that having formal commitments to positive virtues makes it much easier to build a unified framework for conversation.
Community Element #2 A Good Excuse To Gather
Once you’re all on the same page with regards to group values, then you also need a good excuse to gather! Great excuses are all around you.
It all starts from asking “what do you want?”
In the example of my men’s group we all wanted to have a weekly space to gather & spend some time listening, mentoring & learning together.
We chose to keep it small because of the intimate nature of our discussions, but community gatherings don’t have to be small.
It may take a bit longer to get large events going but this framework is effective anytime you want to build connections between people.
- Holidays/significant events
- Book studies
- Wildlife Tracking Club
- Yoga/qigong Club
- Martial arts practice
Just ask yourself “what are you passionate about?”
There are probably others who are also passionate about that same thing. So all you have to do is find them & share your passion.
Community Element #3 Teamwork
As you may have guessed… it’s not exactly possible to initiate community as a single person. It’s helpful then to think about the community building process from the perspective of teamwork.
I would recommend that you start off by finding just one other person who shares your passion for starting a group.
Once you have just one person who shares the interest then you already have enough momentum to get going.
Even if you eventually want to have a much larger group, it’s helpful to begin right away by beginning to weave connections with whoever is with you in the moment.
Weekly or monthly gatherings between even two people create the rich fertile soil for ideas, intentions, plans & motivation to percolate.
Community Element #4 The Meeting Framework
One of the main things that contributes to the long-term success of a group is the connections that form between people.
Even if your eventual goal is to hone a practical skill, it will benefit you greatly to also focus on sharing & listening as people.
At the beginning of every meeting I had with my men’s group we would spend a bit of time loosely catching up while we waited for everyone to arrive at our location.
Once everyone had a chance to hang out for a bit we would bring our minds together in a more formal way.
This can be as simple as going around in a circle sharing thoughts of gratitude.
We would set our intentions for the evening & go into more in-depth discussion. This could be your book study, martial arts practice, nature explorations, or whatever else is the core purpose of the gathering.
At the end of your time together it can be helpful again to go around the circle to share final thoughts, insights, and gratitude.
This opening and closing of the event helps to wrap it all together & contributes to a feeling of connection, unity & purpose.
Other Helpful Tips:
- Take it slow: The community feeling takes time to emerge. Keep the conversation going and you will get there.
- Make sure everyone feels welcome and included
- Keep the feeling positive
- Practice listening for it’s own sake
- Don’t try to solve each other’s problems
- Become a watcher of group energy
- Have “meta” conversations with your team. (What’s working? What could be better? What are we learning about this community?)
- Develop one-on-one connections
- Engage people by asking questions
- Always seek peaceful solutions
- Honor your learning & progress
- Express appreciation
- Be yourself
- Have fun!
- Welcome new people & help them orient to the group
- Don’t grow too quickly.. focus on meaningful connection with whoever is present
- Share your passions
- Cultivate acceptance & learn to love your differences
- Own your personal growth: Everyone has their own path
Here are some ideas for engaging first-timers with questions:
- What do you want to get from being in the group?
- What do you think about the group values?
- What do you want to bring to this group?
- Who are you? What is your story?
Why Invest In Your Local Community?
With the advent of the internet and new technologies the whole world is at our fingertips.
At the same time it’s becoming more common for people to feel disconnected from the others around them.
Creating local community is a great way to learn, make new friends & grow as a human being.
Whether you do it for personal learning, cultural conservation, or just for fun, community building is a worthy & noble pursuit.
It may start off slow, but over time a gathering founded on principles of connection can take on a life of it’s own and have an impact much larger than any one individual could generate in a lifetime.
Best of luck with your creation, please share this page and let me know if you have any other questions about this topic!