On intentional community

Some friends and I are writing blog posts on the same topic. First up was the concept of community.

This is my fourth attempt at it.

I’m going to talk about building community intentionally. And what I’ve seen work and not work.

After racking my my brain for a week for a definition of community that satisfied me I decided on this:

A community is an open and unstructured interacting group of people not focused on a task.

Open means you can invite yourself or exclude yourself without having to do anything particularly.

Unstructured means no one is the boss. If someone has a title its ignored in a community context.

You can have community within all sorts of families, groups, organisations and rolls but they won’t ever map exactly.

For example - I consider myself to be part of the CU community without ever attending Vic. I don’t consider myself to be part of the Awatapu community as I’ve kept up with no-one from my years there.

So: what does this mean trying to build a sense of community within your organisation or church or whatever?

Encourage an environment of interaction. That’s it. Not everyone will want to be involved, and not everyone who is involved will be of the group you wanted, and it’ll grow or die on the interaction of its members.

Recently at work we’ve been playing a lot more table tennis with each other - one of the guys wrote an online leaderboard, and that’s been a huge boon to the community feel here simply by interacting outside of the task.

Another group of friends have a thing called Team Arts and Culture which is an informal group who watches and creates art together. If we didn’t sit around afterward discussing a play, then we would not be as much of a community

It’s hard to manufacture interaction, especially with a fixed group of people but given an environment that encourages interaction off-task it might happen. But if you give everyone a task (build this _____ together, read this study together, win this soccer game together) be sure to give them space to interact outside of that.

And don’t be surprised if you don’t like the community that develops.

This is nothing at all like draft one.