One crucial aspect for developing sustainable community projects is – the community. What might seem common sense is often seriously neglected.
Groups are found to discuss more about structures, finance and ecology than paying attention to the ways they interact or foster their community.
But community does not just happen (it might, but then it often happens in a way that does not last), but needs to be fostered by conscious processes.
For every project, caring for the community spirit is an important task to attend to, both in the initial phase and as an ongoing process.
Community-building has different aspects:
Forming a group identity encompasses clear membership agreements, a common understanding of our intentions, as well a common culture of communication and shared “Rituals” and Celebrations.
One very important method for community building is the deep sharing of what matters, thereby touching on the emotional state of members.
Indeed crucial for community-building is a culture of communication that is open and respectful. Successful communities consciously work on a culture of communication where difficult topics can be addressed without being afraid of punishment. Where conflicts can be seen as opportunities to widen horizons rather than as something that needs to be avoided or won. Striving for shared ‘win-win-solutions’ forms a substantial part of community building.
Love-relationships as the smallest form of sub-communities in a community that need a special focus. A common understanding of how these smallest units of community are embedded in the wider community is important, as the development in our closest relationships always influence our community-life.
Naturally, community is not fostered through left-brain activities like verbal communication alone. Sharing joyful activities is very important for fostering the community spirit. The practise of working together can as well be an important pilar for community-building.
Do note, that the community is not mature from the start. The community can be said to be mature when it has incorporated common, effective methods for self-management (governance) and conflict resolution, just as a person.
On the practical side of community-life are questions of organising mutual support, finding ways to care for those with special needs, finding ways to manage inclusion of children, organise common meals etc., which touches on the structures needed for a community to thrive.