Sunday, September 1, 2013

How Do You Build Community?

This weekend I was in my hometown of Ithaca, NY and what stuck me most about being home is that you can feel a sense of community in the air.  Just a quick trip around my childhood neighborhood and you can feel the intention to draw everyone make it a place people want to be.

Then I started thinking about what it takes to build a community.  What can we do to build up our own communities, whether it's in our own geographic area or on our webpage or facebook page or maybe in classes we are offering?

What makes a community?  

Well, in Ithaca there are sidewalks. It makes it easy to get around without fear.  In the community that you're building, make a sidewalk.  Make it easy for people to connect and feel safe.  Sidewalks=safe mobility.  Is your sidewalk (substitute your offering here) easy to navigate?  What is the feeling that you're creating for your visitors/students/neighbors? Do they feel safe leaving you a post, showing up alone in your class as who they are?

In Ithaca I noticed a tendency to share Abundance. When you're building your community, be generous with your gifts, ideas, praise, encouragement.  Give gifts freely and watch how the abundance is returned to you.  Communities are about sharing, and where anyone's success is everyone's success.  It's not about winning or beating others or trying to prove you're better than.

free apples
Free Apples
city garden
City Garden
Rescuing food, reducing hunger

Gather around a common goal. In Ithaca there is an investment in creating beauty.  Many places that used to be gray, concrete walls like parking garages, are now covered in murals.  The community is uniting around adding beauty in unexpected places.

It seems they even had a contest to transform the electrical (transformer?) boxes into works of art.  They are scattered all over the city and they're fantastic!  I wanted to run all over taking pictures of them!

side view
Side View
 And people are planting flowers on the street corners just because...

street flowers

What seeds are you planting where once was just a regular street corner? How are you adding to the world through what you're offering?  Be it beauty, information, knowledge? 

How can you bring people together to make your community and the world stronger and better?

In Ithaca, public spaces are an opportunity to come together.  The elementary school I went to now has a butterfly garden-a project the neighbors gathered together to create (as well as awesome play structures on the other side of the building the community also raised money to build and then actually built).

butterfly garden yellow flower

And they let everyone know they belong. Hang your flag out to let people know they are welcome.  As they are. Without trying to change them to make them fit.

rainbow church
St. Paul's Methodist Church

Start laying the foundation for what you would like to bring forth in the world.  

Today is a perfect day to begin.


Katie said...

i just came across your blog through magically mixed art community and realized we are both central new yorkers. go cuse!
just read your post about how to build community and it reminded me of this syracuse cultural workers poster:
do you know it? it's great. have a good day.

Kelly D said...

I just checked out that site Katie, love the poster! Thank you for sharing it.