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spike bullet November 2007 - True Community

Definitions: True Community 
Benefits of True Community
Think about These Things
Tips for Creating True Community in the Workplace
Tips for Creating True Community in Your Personal Life
Resources (links, books, articles, the lighter side, Fire Safety)

color bulletTrue Community: Focusing on What's Important

Definition: Community means a group of people with common interests or bonds.

The concept of True Community takes this definition further in recognizing that people must help each other and that they depend on each other — whether for assistance in furthering a group’s mission or dealing with challenges.  

True Community implies a deeper commitment than just living in the same neighborhood or working for the same company.  True Community is a connection of mind, heart and spirit with others who share similar interests or goals.

True Community can be forged through shared common experience, in places such as Southern California as fires rage out of control (late October 2007).

True Community was forged among those who found themselves in New York in September 2001, Oklahoma City in April 1995, New Orleans in August 2005, or in so many other natural and unnatural disasters that might come to mind.  It is at times like these that we realized that we are not alone, that no matter what happens, one person cannot do everything, that getting through big challenges is a group effort of shared commitment that brings out the best in many people.  For those who are touched by tragedy yet are not physically close by, there is an opportunity to participate by giving their treasures (time, talent or money) or helping in some other way.

True Community can be formed in the workplace by people who learn to trust each other, depend on each other and feel that they are part of something more than just a "job" that takes up their time each day.  Companies or organizations that have a compelling mission tend to draw out the best from the people who work there whether they manufacture products or provide services.

A commitment to co-workers is part of True Community at work.  A willingness to assist when help is needed, a desire to do the best work possible, an interest in the happiness of co-workers, a motivation to operate ethically, a need to be competent and professional at all times are just a few of the factors that comprise a workplace that operates as a True Community.

In a "Community of Heart," people feel like family, whether they are related biologically or not.  They feel a deep emotional connection to others and are willing to trust them with their deepest feelings.

A "Community of Spirit" implies people share similar spiritual beliefs, life philosophies or religious beliefs.  This type of community may live in faraway places yet when meeting someone who identifies with your Community of Spirit, you will feel an almost immediate connection or level of trust.

A "Professional Community" is one of people with the same occupation, such as doctors, lawyers or store clerks.  People doing the same type of work have a way to relate to each other that people who don’t do the same work might not understand.

One of the most well-known ways to develop teams is to give a group of people a challenging task to complete.  Programs like fire-walking or survival adventures use this knowledge to place people in situations where they have to depend on others.  This helps to create trust and make the connections that allow people to learn how to give and receive support.

In one organization that I’ve worked in, there were two large groups that did not seem to get along well.  We finally were able to break that dynamic by assigning people from each group to work on a variety of projects where they had defined roles and tasks to complete.  It took a while for the people to get to know each other and begin to work together.  Once that resistance was broken, individual personality barriers lowered and tangible results were seen, the groups "forgot" about their past differences and now regularly work together without the past resistance or rancor that was present at every encounter several years ago.

Dave Gregg described True Community this way:

Many types of communities exist — more than can be named at this time — but the real bonding agent that holds them together is the magnetic draw of tolerance and acceptance.  

Obviously there are practical factors in communities, such as the exchange of goods and services, religious worship, municipal governance and so forth, but the lessons surrounding tolerance and acceptance provide the glue that creates a lasting bond.  Now such lessons are often pursued unconsciously, but they are still an overriding influence in any community.

Nancy Gordon describes community this way:

The idea of community has many elements and communities are expressed in many ways.  There are communities of the heart, the mind, the spirit, the professions, of play, of geography, of every kind of drawing together that human beings can imagine.

Now, within that geographical space, two or more members may find an affinity of interest beyond surface considerations such as leaf collection, taxation and noise levels.  They may discover that they share an interest in sports.  This interest may take the form of belonging to groups who also share this interest.  This then becomes another kind of ‘community’ for those so inclined, based on their common attraction to sports, either watching others actually involved in activities or participating in them themselves.

Take the community of the spirit.  This is what people who follow a specific philosophy, spiritual belief or religion belong to.  You share a common interest in the teachings of that belief and you have, by virtue of that interest, a commonality of purpose.  Even the designation ‘International Community’ is one of spirit.  It has no physical expression at all, but is only a vision of purpose, not necessarily agreed upon but nonetheless shared.

A community of the heart means the sharing of an emotional state.  This is best exemplified in the ties within the human family, but can also be applied to those who come together to live as family without the element of kinship.  This kind of community is especially based on ‘common interest.’

Benefits of True Community

People who enjoy working together and enjoy each other, work much better, produce better products, give better services and make more money for the companies they work for.  They don't spend their time gossiping, causing problems, getting behind or slowing down production.  Woman hugging fire fighter (Orange County CA) Oct. 2007

People who love their job usually talk about feeling good about the work they do and about the people they do it with.  People who enjoy their work are happier, healthier, work more, use less sick leave, have few accidents and injuries.  

Members of a True Community provide a source of great joy and happiness knowing that someone cares about you.  They applaud your successes and look beyond your mistakes.

A true friend is someone who knows your faults and loves you anyway.

Knowing that a co-worker can pick up a job where you left off, cover you if you are ill, provide services if you are in a meeting or a cover you in a myriad of other ways, gives people a good feeling about their work and their workplace.  Customer Service surveys always confirm the benefits of happy people's work.   

Having a network of friends and people that care about you provides a "safety net"  when something goes wrong.  They provide an emotional cushion against life’s bumps and bruises, and a strong flow of resources, consolation, comfort and laughter when needed.  The people who can cope the best with tragedy, sudden changes, heartbreak, job loss, death, health issues or just the general ups-and-downs of life have a good social network and are part of a True Community somewhere in their life. Ultimately, it's all about trusting others and feeling safe in the world.  

In the communities where fire has destroyed homes this week, how well Thank you firefighters & Canyon Watch sign Silverado Canyon CA (Oct 2007) people are able to cope, to rebuild and go on with their lives will depend on how connected they feel to their neighbors and others who can assist them.  In the Modjeska Canyon area where I lived for 9 years, my neighbors showed up to sand bag my house when a mud slide threatened (before I even knew about the danger) and alerted me several times when fire evacuations were called.  Everyone watched out for each other and we all made sure our local firefighters always knew how much we appreciated them.  That's the essence True Community. 

Think about these things:

  • How much more could your company accomplish if everyone worked well together instead of arguing, resisting or debating issues endlessly?
  • What are you willing to do to encourage and promote that type of work environment? 
  • How much better would the world be if we could stop fighting over our different beliefs and work on our common world challenges?

Sarah Chambers describes the benefits of true community:

Usually, if there is essence bonding in a community, terrible things just will not happen.  There will be too much work to do and too much spirituality in the group to allow those terrible things to even come up.  

"Culling the herd" is a characteristic of a good community leader.  The leader must be able to see who is functioning and who is not.  Non-functioning people do not belong in communities, unless the entire community is built around a specific need, such as care of the aged or care of children with special orthopedic problems.  Beware of those people who just want to "hang around" with you.  They will not contribute to the community.

José Stevens defined successful communities:

  1. Have a common theme or vision.
  2. Are self-pruning; have the capacity to be flexible and change.
  3. Are a mix of ages with many representatives over thirty-five.
  4. Empower both females and males and honor their differences.
  5. Honor both doing and being, dynamic and magnetic forces at play.
  6. Address survival issues to support the higher vision.
  7. Have shared leadership that empowers the community.
  8. Include variety and tolerance for difference without losing focus.
  9. Are derived out of the environment they are in and use local resources as much as possible.
  10. Honor equally the needs for creativity, support, productivity and knowledge.
  11. Allow for plenty of humor and show goodwill to their surroundings.
  12. Make a contribution to and positively influence the larger society.
  13. Value members’ honesty, awareness and risk taking in the direction of personal growth.
  14. Trust their own resilience.
  15. Work with natural forces and trends within.
  16. Form beneficial natural alliances with other communities of like vision.
  17. Fertilize themselves through diversity and encourage variety of interests by validating others.
  18. Monitor their own growth and prevent overwhelm through patience.
  19. Do not promote their own growth but rather seek to fulfill their mission.

Tips for creating True Community in the Workplace:

  1. There must be the desire for a deeper connection with others for yourself or for your group.
  2. If you are a manager, supervisor or executive, assess where you and your team members are now.  Do they already have some of the attributes of a true community or does everyone work by themselves and not get along with others?  Does your staff have a desire to work better together?
  3. Find ways for people to help each other and get to know each other better.  Assign tasks that require more than one person to accomplish and monitor their progress.  Provide teamwork coaching if needed by someone skilled in that area.
  4. Rotate assignments.  Ask a person who has responsibility for an area to train someone in how they do their job.  Rotations on a regular basis help keep people’s skills sharp as they move into new areas.  It also provides opportunities for the new person to come in with fresh new ideas.
  5. Talk about teamwork and the benefits it will bring to your work and your work group.
  6. Be a strong example of teamwork yourself.
  7. Find occasions to assist your staff.  If you work in headquarters, make time to go out to your regional or field offices on a regular basis.  Get your hands dirty.  Do the work your employees do, even if you are out of practice.  McDonalds executives pride themselves on "flipping hamburgers" occasionally.  That type of example goes a long way toward building trust and improving your ability to understand the job your staff is doing.
  8. Encourage your peer managers to talk about their experiences of teamwork and what works for them.  Listen to them.  Share your ideas with them.
  9. Set up brown bag lunches or book clubs where people can exchange ideas about teamwork.
  10. Celebrate co-worker's professional accomplishments.
  11. Allow employees to celebrate birthdays, happy family events, retirements, new children's births.
  12. Hold potluck gatherings or other events that are more casual to give staff an opportunity to get to know their co-workers in a different way. 
  13. Set up regular brain-storming sessions to review what works well and what could be improved.
  14. Ask staff for ideas, find ways to implement their ideas and give them credit for bringing them forward.
  15. If possible, give rewards for money-saving ideas.  Remember that people are motivated in different ways.  Money isn’t always the best reward.  Sometimes, simply the recognition and acknowledge of a person’s worth to the group is what matters the most to them.
  16. Encourage people to get together in casual situations – lunches, after work events, sports teams, etc. where they can see other as real people not just as co-workers.
  17. As an organization, participate in neighborhood projects, such as raising funds to help local fire-stricken residents, fund-raisers for a local school or a contribute to a major disaster.  Show that you care about the larger community around you.
  18. If an individual where you work needs help, organize a group effort to support them in whatever ways make sense.
  19. Give people time off to assist in volunteer efforts.
  20. Allow personal or family pictures to be placed in offices and cubicles, and on computer screen savers.  

Tips for creating True Community in your personal life:

  1. Think about what is important to you.  What type of people are you close to now?  Are you close to your biological family?  Would you like to have more friends or people who feel like "family" to you?
  2. Get to know who your neighbors are where you live.  You already have a built-in common interest.  Walk up to a neighbor and introduce yourself when you see them.  You’ll be surprised how many people will appreciate the gesture.  Don't wait until a tragedy strikes your neighborhood to know who lives around you.  
  3. Get to know your local home association members, your local mail carrier and your local merchants.
  4. Join a church or spiritual group.
  5. Join online groups that contain people with interests similar to your own.
  6. Join professional associations.
  7. Join parent groups at your children’s schools.
  8. Join sports organizations or other groups that interest you.
  9. Volunteer your time for a local community service organization.
  10. Donate time, money or resources to a worthwhile cause.

  Internet Resources

Note: We lived in Modjeska Canyon CA for 9 years before moving to Washington state so this fire has touched our heart and our friends.

book graphic  Books

world wide web - articles  Articles

Related newsletter article:
    September, 1996 - Motivating Employees

smiley graphic  The Lighter Side  

  • There will come a time when you believe everything is finished.  That will be the beginning ~ Louis L'Amour
  • A friend is someone who is there for you when they’d rather be somewhere else.
  • Happiness comes when your work and words are of benefit to yourself and others. ~ Buddha
  • A true friend is someone who knows your faults and loves you anyway.  
  • A true friend knows your weaknesses but shows you your strengths; feels your fears but fortifies your faith; sees your anxieties but frees your spirit; recognizes your disabilities but emphasizes your possibilities. ~ William Arthur Ward
  • Consciously or unconsciously, every one of us does render some service or other.  If we cultivate the habit of doing this service deliberately, our desire for service will steadily grow stronger, and will make, not only our own happiness, but that of the world at large. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
  • I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.~ Albert Schweitzer
  • Friendship quotes http://www.dennydavis.net/poemfiles/frq.htm  http://www.dennydavis.net/poemfiles/frpgs.htm 

  Fire Safety: We're all connected and depend on each other

Wildfire prevention tips:  Ten ways to safeguard your home.Fire heading into Foothill Ranch CA (Oct 22, 2007)

  1. Clear brush away from the home.  The (CA) state laws require 100 feet.
  2. Don't attach wooden fences to the house.
  3. Don't keep building materials close to the home.
  4. Weed, water and thin out greenbelts.
  5. Make sure to change batteries in your smoke detector.
  6. Prepare an evacuation plan for your family, including how to get out from the second floor.
  7. Keep a dry-chemical extinguisher at home.
  8. Sleep with bedroom doors closed, because many people die of smoke inhalation before the fire gets to them.
  9. Have a non-flammable roof on your house.
  10. Have important documents ready to bring with you in case of a fire, to not spend any time collecting things before getting out.

Sources: Firefighters at Orange County CA Stations 39 and 49.  Photo above from Foothill Ranch,  CA (Oct 2007 Santiago Fire) 

Photos below from Orange County, CA show the benefits of following the instructions: 
Modjeska Canyon CA home that did not burn (Oct 2007)
Modjeska Canyon, CA home  of David Edgar, a U.S. Forest Safety officer, was saved for the 2nd time by following good fire prevention techniques (Oct 2007).  The burned area used to be vibrant natural terrain.

OCFA.org Hardened home followed instructions while 365 of neighbors burned (Laguna Beach Oct 1993)
From OCFA.org - I believe this is from the Laguna Beach, CA fire (Oct 1993).  
One home left intact and 365 around it destroyed.  

Stay Safe!

 

About our resource links:  We do not endorse or agree with all the beliefs in these links.   We do keep an open mind about different viewpoints and respect the ability of our readers to decide for themselves what is useful.

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