Dialogue on Essence of Community

            from the Twin Cities (Minneapolis) western regional dialogue this morning, October 3rd, 2012

What is the essence of community – the deepest meaning of the word as we use it?

…Community is a deep sense of continuance… a feeling of belonging. 

…This sense includes the past, present and future.

…It is a sacred connection to others.

…It is ‘Spirit’ … characterized by Love. For example, the most elemental community is a married couple or a deep friendship.

How is community formed? What creates it? How does it manifest?

…Community is formed through tribal story telling, through rituals, through shared traditions. Study the Celts in the fourth and fifth century…

…We form communities through the stories we tell, and the shared experiences we create. Communities may begin as people living or working in proximity to each other. Real communities include many ways to connect, to step into conversation, contribution and collaboration.

…Look at the wolf-pack. This has many aspects of community. It’s survival mode, there are rules, there is required commitment “watch my back, I got your back”; there is love, there is responsibility, common interest, time for work and time for play, there is unity, there is structure, there is order. Break the rules and you are punished; there’s going to be a fight and at the end of it someone is going to be killed or exiled. It’s a brutal form of a community.

How do you recognize when ‘Community‘ is present in a group? Or when it is not?

The story I tell myself about who I am in relationship to my community… the story I tell to others… this is my expressed sense of community…

You can feel the sense of community among people when it is present. It’s palpable. You can see it in the way the interact with each other, the way they talk to each other.

A crisis can be a defining moment for a group of people. Even if the sense of community was very weak or even non-existent, the moment of crisis can catalyze people into a place of relying on each other, trusting each other, and then later it is the stories we tell each other and others about that experience.

key words:

  • stories
  • sub-culture
  • something in common
  • shared
  • tribal
  • family
  • relationship
  • rituals
  • traditions
  • identity
  • rules
  • fear
  • wolf-pack
  • military squad
  • military squadron
  • belonging
  • shared purpose
  • crisis
  • responsibility
  • trust
  • faithfulness
  • survival
  • war
  • protection
  • need
  • gathering
  • assembly
  • ecclesia
  • church
  • synagogue
  • temple
  • mosque
  • group
  • authenticity
  • stewardship
  • leaders
  • neighbors
  • commitment
  • love
  • belonging
  • enduring legacy
  • common interest
  • strengths and weaknesses
  • watch my back
  • got your back
  • virtue
  • sacred connection
  • climate
  • atmosphere
  • culture
  • friendship
  • acceptance
  • love
  • mantras
  • sayings
  • parables
  • fables
  • myths
  • legends
  • religion
  • compliance
  • punishment
  • exile
  • excommunication
  • retaliation
  • blood feud
  • reconciliation
  • forgiveness
  • restoration