Civic Diary 4/9/2016 – Community

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr)

So my latest Civic Diary is on community.

As I document my experiments in being a better citizen (which I haven’t exactly defined, but we’ll learn along), I wanted to share my latest finding on community.

My local writer’s group needed me to take over a writing event as the person running it at the time had a change of schedule and wouldn’t be doing so for quite some time.  I took over out of a desire to help out – it’s a good group that focuses on getting together and writing.

At that point I suddenly thought about my other activities in communities.  Helping at a museum.  My video gaming group.  Movie nights for another club.  All those little things (remember when I mentioned the power of weak links?) that create alliances and bonds.  I saw how important they were.

All these little bits of community involvement are important as community is important.  Community ties us together, community helps us connect, community builds something bigger than us.  If you want to be civicly engaged, building some community, virtually any kind, is important – and lets you use other interests to do good.

Some community seem trivial?  That Steven Universe fan group could also let people network to find jobs.  Your anime club can do charities.  Your doll collector group might be a place where you can offer your skills in accounting to someone with tax questions.  Multiply those opportunities over a lifetime and you can see how important community -any community – is to being a citizen.

Obviously, I think we need to consciously think what kind of community we should build. I will doubtlessly go on about that more in the future.

A few more thoughts on community building:

  • * Real community is built by real people – be it face to face or with your real name, yu need to connect as human beings.
  • * Functional community is integrative, not divisive.  A community ma address a problem, but it does so with a larger purpose of bringing people together.
  • * Community should be connected to the “big picture” even if the big picture is “man we all have hard days, let’s have a movie club every Friday night.”  Insular communities have a way of being very non-civil.
  • * Community has some kind of identity. It needs to know what it is.

So there’s my thoughts.  What’s your community?

– Steve