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What Does Community Mean to You?

 




A couple of years ago, I was asked to share what community means to me. The word community, in the work I do, often gets hijacked and becomes just another buzzword that has lost its original meaning.


According to the New World Encyclopedia, a community is a social group sharing an environment, normally with shared interests. For all of my fellow etymologists, the word "community" comes from the Latin word "communitas" which means "common, public, shared by all or many." To me, community means the presence of diverse people doing life with one another. It means being curious enough to ask sincere and authentic questions, listening to the spoken--- and unspoken, building bridges, sharing meals and laughter, and offering olive branches when we inevitably make mistakes.

 



Community can bring us together for intentional experiences like projects and causes - that we care about or it can happen organically - with our neighbors which makes us happier, healthier, safer, and stronger.

 

Community means there are people we can call on by name to share, not only in the joy of life but, in the pain acknowledging that it all belongs in community.

 

Community is when we are in an environment where we rely on people who see us, really see us. I feel like the DNA of community is the presence of authentic, unconditional, and welcoming invitations into doing life with one another. Where relationships bud, grow, and develop based on trust and, dare I say, love for our fellow citizens.

 

Community is ascribing value to others by spending time together – loaning fans, borrowing sugar, sharing laughs, meals, dreams, and tears.  It means welcoming new neighbors and new people into the group, sending get well soon cards, checking in on the ‘strong ones’ and ‘busy ones.’ It means having strong ties, yet being ok with the weak ties. Community means learning something together, being vulnerable, creating safe and brave spaces, and acknowledging the strengths and uniqueness of others. It means cheering on others, and sipping a favorite beverage together over good conversation.





How can we build stronger communities?

 

We can build strong communities by creating safe and brave spaces to discover our common interests, hobbies, gifts, and strengths. When we are self-reflective and are willing to check our ownselves, especially in the pretext of our origins and context of learning about one another, we are placing high value on others. To me, this helps us to build a brighter future, co-create a culture of belonging, and actively participate in building a stronger community.

 

What does community mean to you?


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