Recently, I’ve been thinking about the various communities I am a part of, and how those impact my life. What prompted this consideration of community was my last week at my Georgetown Leadership Coaching program. My cohort consisted of 25 men and women from diverse ethnic, religious, cultural, and professional backgrounds. What was amazing to me was how close we all became over the course of the past seven months. We became a community by working alongside one another as learners, communicating honestly, and being vulnerable with one another.
I believe that being in community with others is different than just having things in common with others (such as the same zip code, place of employment, color of skin, past experiences, alma mater, political beliefs, etc.). Actually, being in a community calls us to understand, accept, and celebrate differences among us. To me, community requires engagement. It has the connotation of a mutual give and take between members of the community, for the benefit of not just the individuals but the community as a whole. It involves serving others, giving our talents, and caring. Community urges us to get involved, not sit on the sidelines.
Community also takes time, which is a commitment we must make if we are to fully participate. Working alongside others is a great way to build community (for example, pitching in at my next neighborhood park clean-up day). Coming with a curiosity about others helps to build bridges of understanding that strengthen community. I also realize that taking risks is a part of building community. We do that by speaking up, stepping forward, and being vulnerable at times.
What communities are you a part of? How do they impact your life? What do you get – and what do you give in return? I’ll be pondering these same questions in the months to come.
Sharon Keys Seal