Today is Day 7 of Reverb10.
Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?
(Author: Cali Harris)
First, a digression.
(Well, sort of. You know I’m big on metaphor, yes?)
Sea otters are among my favorite animals. I could watch them all day; I’ve definitely added them to the list of Things I Miss In This Landlocked State. Not only are they damn cute, but they’re resourceful. For example:
- To keep from drifting away from one another, they sometimes link paws as they sleep.
- Before they dive for food, mother otters will wrap their pups in kelp to keep them from drifting.
- Otters are among the few mammals who use tools.
- They have really cool flaps under their front legs where they store food as they’re swimming to the surface. Aquarists must frisk otters if they’re feeding them food that can scratch aquarium “glass,” as otters have been known to sneak shells back into their tanks.
Otters aren’t particularly social; they forage alone, though they do rest in groups called—get this—rafts.
Metaphorically speaking, I’m a small, resourceful mammal that lets the tide carry me only so far before I anchor myself to a kelp plant. And while I do occasionally collaborate with other folks when I’m
foraging working, I prefer to do the bulk of my work alone, isolated from others, until it’s time to rest—and then I seek out people.
Wait. . . What were we talking about, again?
Ah, yes: community.
I tend to seek out communities that allow me to be fully myself, that allow me to indulge my eccentricities of habit or belief. Communities where people go out and do their work individually, and then reconvene to reflect or play. You know—like a high-functioning college classroom, where everyone does the reading and a bit of reflecting in advance, and then joins together for invigorating, thought-provoking conversation.
So, in a community I’m looking for:
- Respect for quirkiness of habit or belief: we need to be open to people whose words or actions differ from our own, and we ought to embrace those folks even though they challenge us
- Boundaries: we all have our own space, our own lives, and we respect the division between the individual and community
- Convivial colleagues and friends: people who engage in interesting conversations
- Occasional gatherings in person: The Internet is all well and good, but face-to-face interaction is refreshing and life-affirming.
These days I’m walking the line between extrovert (by which I mean someone who is energized by interacting with people) and introvert (someone who needs time alone to reflect and recharge), and any community I join needs to respect both my desire for engagement and my occasional need to withdraw.
There are a couple of communities I belong to that already fulfill these needs and desires, but I’m also seeking a more spiritual and local (outside of work) community these days. I suspect the local Friends meeting may be one such place I find a welcoming community where I might contribute meaningfully.
What do you seek in a community?