Chris Boardman Music Blog: Creating a sense of community

Friday, May 23, 2014

Creating a sense of community

What is community? How do we define it? Do we actually know what it is? Ever thought about why we as humans think it is important? With a big h/t to Greg Lexiphanic here are a few thoughts to consider. I will try to paraphrase this great ebook. 
Key criteria to establish a “sense of community” (as defined by David McMillan & David Chavis- “sense of community: a theory and definition”) are:
1. Membership 2. Influence 3. Fulfilment of needs 4. Shared emotional connection.
For a community to exist members must experience a sense of community.
How can you create a community around who you are, your business, your interests? Take the time to understand how these four elements relate to each other and what they mean individually.
Membership implies exclusivity (a barrier to entry or boundary). Either you are in or you are out. Implied in membership is a trust that you will be safe and taken care of within the boundaries and definitions of the group.
Influence is gained by having an affecting change on the group. Influence is only achieved by listening as well as expressing your beliefs.
“People who acknowledge that others’ needs, values, and opinions matter to them are often the most influential group members, while those who always push to influence, try to dominate others, and ignore the wishes and opinions of others are often the least powerful members.” —McMillan & Chavis, 1986
The fuel to drive a community is reinforcement. To receive reinforcement requires participation by the members. If participation focuses on the betterment of the group then reinforcement and a “sense of community” can be achieved. It is a two way street of give and take within the boundaries created by the group. No matter which side of the coin you are on (giving or receiving), if you feel fulfilled by taking part, the group will satisfy your need to belong and a bond will develop.
Shared Emotional Connection. There is a great line from the film Local Color that talks about art: “A shared experience is more meaningful than one experienced alone.”
Why is it we seek out group experience rather than isolation?
Intimacy, acknowledgement, sharing of views in a defined format, reward for your investment of time and energy and spiritual bonding ties us together in groups creating a more powerful experience than trying to do it alone. It is why we identify with and join groups in the first place. We are tribal animals…it is intrinsic to our nature.
Look at your business and personal relationships. Question the drivers and quality of the interactions, what value you derive from feeling connected and reward you receive in return. Productive relationships are always win-win. If you focus on the value you add rather than "what's in it for me" a win-win out come is easier to achieve. 
Attempting to create an online or offline community is difficult and time consuming. However, the rewards can far outweigh your  investment of time and money. People will surprise you. Your reward will be reflective of the bonds you create in your community rather than tied to a specific outcome or expectation. 
Most of us blithely stumble into situations that are driven by habit and conditioning rather than conscious thought. The opportunity for all of us who are interested in creating community is not only to achieve or goals but also to learn more about ourselves.
Subscribe via email in the upper right hand corner. If you like the blog please leave a contact below.

1 comment: