Building Community

Building Community July 12, 2018

How do you build community among solitary practitioners? When we are seemingly a nation of introverts, happily behind our computer screens or phones, full of busy lives, it can be hard to feel connected, or part of a larger group.

I lead workshops about building community, as it’s a passion of mine.  I’ve always had an interest in connecting people in different walks of life, weaving them all together in a cozy blanket of community.  Below are a few tips to consider if you’re eager to build community among solitary practitioners:

First thing to do before building community? Review yourself. Are you welcoming to others? Do you have an interest in others?

Next, examine your language. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the following sentence begin with “In MY tradition…” with a certain air of possessiveness. There’s a huge difference from sharing information, “In my tradition, we do the following…”

Home/Work/Social Life: There’s a great scene in Brigid Jones’s Diary when her friend teaches her how to introduce two people, mentioning their interests. I love learning about people and their interests, then when I meet other people with similar interests, I’ll find a way to connect them. Someone’s talents can sometimes mesh with another person’s talents, and they can collaborate in projects or other community areas.

Conferences/Festivals: That is the core of community building! I hope you each have the joy of attending a conference or festival. Being in a group of people who share similar interests can immediately foster a feeling of community. Facebook groups can be a great way to meet people and stay in touch, before and after the event.

Staying in touch: do you? So many people will make a connection, and then let that drop.  We all get busy, so it’s a choice to stay in touch with someone, or make the effort. If you feel that connection, nurture it. Be in touch. It’s as simple as that.

So.Many.Groups. There are so many traditions out there, how can you build community? Look for the commonality. Join in.

Of course, there are many challenges in building community. Some people are prickly and difficult to be around. Many communities have large distances between spiritual communities. People are working more than ever, with little free time. What to do?

Here are a few suggestions:  Look at Meetup, an app that provides groups in all kinds of areas. It’s an excellent way to meet people of like minds. From there, you can form your own groups as you meet like minds. Is there a local witch shop or metaphysical store? Look into starting up a group there. I began one in the shop where I now work, an open discussion of spiritual paths with a monthly subject and ritual. Some people come from miles away. If you find yourself knowing a group of people with similar interests, think about starting a Facebook group. From there you can meet for a meal, an outing, or more. Look into attending rituals or local CUUPS (Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans) rituals.

I’ve held quite a few workshops, and one common thread throughout all of them is that people are hungry for community. There is a deep longing for connection, and feeling part of a group. I felt this myself as I attended a conference earlier this year. I looked around the dining area, where many people were chatting, laughing, and catching up. And I thought, “These are my people!” I felt that with a deep contentment, and honestly, I hadn’t met most of them. Yet I felt welcomed, and I belonged. I was where I needed to be. I hope all of you feel that, and often.

If you have ideas or suggestions for building community, please do share them with me. I’d love to know.

 

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