Sunday, July 13, 2008

The community that keeps you... I'm repurposing a lot of content here, and I make no apology! Thoughts come unbidden most of the time, and often when I'm least prepared to blog. The only fair thing to do is to help them eventually migrate to this blog and into your waiting mind.

Mostly, I want to know what you think? What is "the community that keeps you?" How do you build and strengthen your community? Here's what I was thinking at the time...originally posted on Chattanooga-Pagans (local Yahoo! Group):

April 22, 2008 - I'm in Santa Rosa, California right now, attending a communications and social media conference. One of the speakers, Joe Jaffe, made a statement tonight that struck me as profound and particularly appropriate to the recent thread about community. Without going into the entire context, he said, "You are the community that keeps you."

Within the discussion context, the community that keeps me is at once one and many communities. It starts with my family. It includes the extended family of spiritual brothers and sisters I celebrate and work with. It's a group of women who come together for occasional "goddess weekends" and stay in touch as we can. I count people I love but see infrequently in the list, too. It's the temporary community created at CPCG and other gatherings. It's the recurrent community that attends PNO. It's individual friends that join me and make a community of two or more for the myriad of reasons friends come together. It's the ever-changing community made up of whoever happens to be in Spiralady's when I drop by. And it certainly includes this list and, within it, even more subsets.

Each of those individual communities and more make up the larger community. Actually, I like Mel's word - web - better. If I could graph my community as I described it above, it would indeed look like a big web. When I am pulled hard in any one direction, it's the web that keeps me from going too far. When I'm strong and full and whole, my strength reinforces the web and keeps someone else from falling. With or without a defined structure, with all the flaws inherent in an ungoverned, borderless community, that web sustains, nourishes, and supports me and gives me an avenue through which to sustain, nourish, and support others.

When I think, then, about "community," I think about micro and macro. Every interaction I have is either community building or community demolition. I can't separate my personal relationships from my relationship with the larger community. Those personal relationships ARE the larger community. The stronger each point on the web becomes, the stronger the web becomes.

I build community one person, one group, and one interraction at a time, and I know others who are doing the same. None of us can claim perfection; we've had to repair the web more than once and there's almost always another hole that needs mending. Fortunately, a good mend is often stronger than the original knot, especially when accompanied by a heartfelt, "Well, that sucked. What can we do better next time?"

If you're reading this, you're part of my web, part of the community that keeps me. Thank you. Keep strengthening your own connections and I'll keep working on mine. Together, we're amazing.

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