What Are You Doing To Build Community?

It is common to feel a lack of belonging to any community beyond your immediate family. Are you doing anything to change that?

In the industrialized world, an emphasis is placed on he individual, or the idea of the small, “nuclear” family. It is common for children to move far away from their parents, and for people to settle down and raise their own family hundreds or even thousands of miles away from where they grew up.

This is a far cry from families that saw multiple generations living together under one roof. Or a clan being an extended family all living in the same village.

Under current circumstances, a sense of community can be hard to find. Many of the traditional institutions that provided that sense of community, like family and the church, are in decline. Even people who live in a densely populated residential area might not know many — or any — of their neighbors.

Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss the related question: ‘What are our responsibilities to others?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘Are we too busy?’

Things have gotten particularly bad as a result of the pandemic. First the lockdown limited social interaction, and then many of the more popular ways of socializing, like music concerts or sporting events, were canceled or heavily restricted.

And yet, human beings are social animals. We crave social interactions, and we feel the need to belong to a group that is larger than ourselves.

Do you feel that pull to join other people? In what ways are you trying to reestablish contact with friends and neighbors? What activities do you participate in, or what strengthens the bonds you have with others? What are you doing to build community?

Related questions: What makes a community? Why do we feel the need to belong? Why do people like games? What do we have in common?

6 thoughts on “What Are You Doing To Build Community?”

  1. Truth be told, I’m searching for or want to help build some communities.

    Right now, I am part of a couple of what I’d call either potential communities or micro-communities. First, a few Facebook friends and I connect over heirloom gardening, sharing tips, articles, and pictures of what we are growing. And, second, there’s Intellectual Roundtable. Lee and I have lured a few friends each to periodically share thoughts about the questions we’ve been asking for nearly five years now.

    I wouldn’t call either of the examples above actual communities, though the potential exists. Instead, they are more like connections between individuals, not yet team efforts. And each is too small, I think, to be labeled a community. And so, while I still try to use each of the examples above to create a larger community, I’m still left wanting.

    The closest thing I have to community comes through work. A team of advocates and me works to advance policies that would build more affordable housing, reduce homelessness, and increase protections for tenants. There’s a deeply-held purpose. And the number of people involved makes each group viable enough for me to think of it as a community. But something seems lacking. Perhaps it’s that very few of us share the why we do the work other than our organizations’ missions. The ties that bind us don’t seem strong enough.

    And so, I am left wanting more (or any) community in my life.

  2. Prior to the pandemic, I hosted a number of gatherings, including holiday parties, game nights, and dinner parties. This has almost ceased over the last two years.

    However, increasingly I have been reconnecting with college friends over the last year or so (including some I have not seen in nearly 30 years!), and, of course, there is Intellectual Roundtable. It is most definitely an effort to build community (with admittedly limited success).

    Those efforts seem pretty small, but every little bit helps.

    1. By the way, I was and continue to be proud of my wedding to Marsha, not just because it was a fun, creative event. In addition, we invited people from across our experiences and across the country, and provided many opportunities for those people to mingle during the event.

      Several of them became friends quite independently of us, and it always gives me a thrill when in conversation with me, one friend talks about a conversation or meeting with someone that they wouldn’t know but for my introduction.

      1. Lee, I love your last sentence. I found out a few years ago that “Connectedness” was one of my strengths on the Clifton Strength Finder.

  3. A couple more thoughts on building community. I belong to two wonderful communities, Pax Christi Catholic Community and Charis Ecumenical Catholic Community. They are both in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, but have virtual members all over the country. You don’t need to be a practicing Catholic to join. We welcome everyone.

    On a smaller scale, I’ve been getting together with several new friends for coffee a couple times a week. It’s too early to tell what will come of our group, but so far so good.

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