Posted by Donald Miller
I spent much of my twenties trying to find a community I could plug into. I did this through book clubs, outdoor activities and church groups. And to be honest, it was terrific. I have had more great experiences with various communities than I can count.
Still, when I got older, I discovered something even more fun. I discovered we could create all new communities. I discovered I could plant a community the way a farmer plants a garden and watch it flourish and enjoy what the garden yields.
The way to do this is to plant seeds, weed out toxic plants and celebrate the harvest.
Now, I don’t look for anybody to create a community for me at all. And I recommend if you’d like to have a great community, you do the same.
Here’s how it looks:
Simply introduce like-minded people. When I meet people who remind me of one of my other friends, I quickly set up a lunch or dinner to introduce them. If they’re both married, I set up a triple date. This usually works amazingly well. Because I’m an introvert, the folks I’ve invited to the meal usually have an amazing conversation and I get to listen and just chime in with occasional comments. Also, occasionally I’ll simply get all my writer friends together for a discussion about a book, a new piece of software or, well, any excuse to get together and talk. I’ll do the same with my friends who run non-profits or my friends in the political arena. It’s fantastic. We usually talk shop for a little while and then just let the evening crumble into laughter. Depending on how much wine is served.
The idea here, though, is to not force anything. Those who connect are going to connect and those who don’t won’t. There’s really no way to force anything.
WEED OUT TOXINS
Unfortunately, the trouble with some communities is they’re open to everybody. I know that sounds beautiful and amazing but some people are, quite simply, bad for communities. They may be manipulative, controlling or just in a stage where they’re acting as predators. I protect my communities by no longer inviting these folks. It sounds like I’m talking about a large percentage of the population, but right now I can only think of one time I had to do this. Most everybody I invite to something is pretty great. Still, if you create a community, always know every field has to be protected or it gets ruined.
CELEBRATE THE HARVEST
Celebration is HUGE when it comes to creating a community. Whether it’s birthdays, anniversaries, significant career advancements or babies being born, bring all your people together to celebrate each other.
Those three, simple things are all it takes to create a community.
How long does it take? If you’re starting from scratch, it can take a year or even two before a community begins to click and feed each other. Of course, planting a field, watering it, protecting it and letting it produce a harvest takes a while. Nothing we love and appreciate happens immediately.
Hungry for a community? Why not start one?