Community is Not a CommodityPeople talk about community as if it were a canned good they could grab off the grocery store shelf— “I want to see more community.”

Okay abstract thinker, how do you propose we encourage people to interact with and belong to something?

Community functions as a byproduct of a larger goal or focal point. For example, the university lifestyle lends itself to community, closeness, bonding, and belonging. In fact, as I talk to graduates many comment about their memories of tightknit friendships and familiarity among peers.

This makes sense. The common goal of most university students is to obtain a degree. So when you are sitting among, working alongside, living with, and befriending many pursuing a degree, a sense of community naturally develops…a consciousness of, “We are in this together.”

The kind of community experienced as a university student is rare. Not only do many meet and develop friendships lasting a lifetime; they also gain irreplaceable memories of a time gone by.

To those interested in building community, remember:

  • It takes time, as implied by “building.” To make or raise up a sense of belonging or group atmosphere, people need to work at it and invest in it.
  • You may need to take the initiative and follow up. People miss opportunities because they wait for someone else’s invitation. People are not mind readers. Say what you mean, mean what you say. Sometimes just showing up is not enough. Engage! Fear not and join in.
  • Community is messy by nature and requires an abundance of forgiveness for what is missing and celebration of what is.

May you play an active role in developing the community you wish to experience.