Community. I love what it means to be a part of a community: being in community, being a part of something bigger than myself, having an affinity with a group. Growing up in a small town, my neighbors knew our business, you could not ‘get away’ with much, but you also felt the safety of everyone looking out for you. When I moved to Los Angeles, I found that it was also a small town in many ways. For more than 30 years, I have run into people I know in the most unusual places and my heart warms at the small community moments within our expansive city. I gravitate toward local events and gatherings: the farmers market, concerts in the park, festivals and community-run events and am always so happy when I run into someone I know.
I also think about community in terms of friend groups: classifying groups of people by how we met or by the life experience we have shared. Paramount, NetZero or Search Agency colleagues (among other work groups), baby group, temple friends, college girls, birthday club, book club. Each community has connection with each other – something in common. We worked together, traveled together, raised our kids, or shared books; we created memories.
Remote Work Community. When I think about a fully remote or hybrid work environment, I question whether the community feel of the in-office experience can be replicated. Can I make as deep connections with my co-workers without taking the time to create community with them? Are we missing the communal aspects of working side-by-side, looking over each other’s shoulders, or collaborating in-person? Can anything truly replace the magic created in the few minutes after the meeting, connecting in the hallway or stopping by someone’s desk? I am not sure, but it is a challenge that we will all need to overcome as the workplace redefines itself. Consider joining a BRG or ERG (business or employee resource group) that interests you to create a community.
College Community. When my kids were applying to college, we had a conversation of not only what they could get out of the school, but what they would contribute to the community. It is an interesting perspective shift to think (at 17 years old) what you would offer in addition to what you would receive. That contribution could be the difference between acceptance or rejection (in your application or in your creating connections). Approach not only by seeing what you will get out of the school, but what you will put back into the ecosystem of the student body.
Virtual Community. I belong to a women’s group that has fondly become known as the Wednesday Word Salon – one word, one hour, no rules. Multigenerational, global, with various family dynamics, the community feeds off of the different and shared perspectives that each person brings to the conversation. We are a community that is marked by its differences, and we learn and grow through curiosity, exploring a single word each week. Most people have never met in person and yet, we sit and evolve in community with each other.
Technology and Community. Technology is allowing us to be in community without being in-person. Over the past three years in particular, we have been able to connect, share common ground, challenge each other, collaborate, learn and grow without being face-to-face. Through text, social media, video, and other technology, we are able to maintain communities of friends and colleagues. It is an exciting time.
As I prepare to start my nomad experience (it has been slightly delayed, but I will be on the road by end of April), I think about the communities I will experience and how I will present myself and join during my time in each city. I also think about keeping in touch with my established communities and the ability to share this experience with them.
What communities do you contribute to? What is your participation and what do others receive from your being a member of your communities? What do you need from your community and how can you find the support you desire?
Thank you to my newsletter community. I receive much more from you than you could possibly know.