Tuesday, May 4, 2010

6 Ideas for Building a Real Community

This Post by Justin Dixon

Every major problem that we face can be reduced (if not eliminated) by one very powerful thing, a real community. The problem is that in our modern world it seems that while we have more ways than ever to connect with several communities, we have forgotten how to connect with our neighbors. So what do I mean by real community?

A real community is one where you know and interact with people, you help each other if something goes wrong, you look out for one another, you come together to solve problems, and sometimes you just come together just for fun. This can be online, in your city, or even in your own neighborhood. Real communities are about connecting and working with real people, and they are about people choosing to be an answer instead of just always looking for one.

Now what about those 6 ideas for building a real community?

1. Start a neighborhood watch. It doesn’t matter if you have crime in your area or not, this gives you and your neighbors a reason to start getting to know one another. You end up making even a good neighborhood safer and you start connecting with those in your immediate area.

2. Start a community garden. If you have an open space on your lawn you can start using it as a tool to help one another. You can start with something small like a group coming together to help each other landscape (and maybe even do home improvements) or you can actually grow food and share it with one another.

3. Hold a potluck in your front yard. Any of these ideas can lead to a potluck, who doesn’t like to eat free food? But by holding a pot luck outside in your front yard it can work as an invitation to others. You can start by asking your neighbors if they would want to bring any food, and as soon as you have enough people saying what they will bring than you choose a weekend and hold it.

4. Start a self-improvement group. Meet with some friends and meditate. Talk to the local book store and see if you can start a self-improvement book discussion group in the store, start a meetup. In Lynchburg(where I live) I’m working on starting such a book group and am involved with a meditation meetup called the Peace Practice.

5. Find something that needs done and do it. Get your neighbors involved, tell them what you want to do, and ask if they want to help.

6. Start a blog. When you share something and invite others to share as well you do create a community. Some of the best people who I know I can talk to live across an ocean, and I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with them through blogging. The problem we solve may be just how to build a better blog, but even coming together like that is really great. Leo Babauta and Mary Jaksh of zenhabits.net and goodlifezen.com actually have an awesome community called the A-List Blogging Bootcamp that I am a member of. This would not be the same blog if it had not been for the community here, and the boot camp itself is great. There is actually another one coming up that is great for getting into the blogging community though they do cost some money (worth every penny) you can sign up for here. Or you can just ask other bloggers or even friends you know if they could help. (I do still recommend the bootcamp though)

The fact is that anyone can start a community, and while you may or may not think of yourself as a leader these communities can help us solve security problems, bridge ignorance, make new friends, and even come up with solutions to get the economy (at least in your local area) working again, you have the power to start this. Someone needs to after all. I’m starting by working on not only this blog but with starting a self-improvement book group. My question is what will you do?