Why We're Not Interested in "Building Community"

NOTE: This post originally appeared in an email to the Midtown Community. It's been adapted for the Midtown blog. We mean no disrespect for the community builders among us. Hear us out.  

Do you know this phrase? "We're building community." 

Community feels good. We are included. We laugh. We eat things together. We "do life" together. We show up and leave on time. 

Are you part of a group with a purpose of building community? It’s just a matter of time before the good feelings disappear and things get weird. Or someone says, "We should do a service project." Then the leaders work really hard to schedule a volunteer project (probably something with hairnets) and only half the group shows up. Then they grow old and wonder, "Where are the millennials?" 

We're all for friend groups. Friend groups are good. But groups of friends are not organizations and they don't have a mission. Friend groups are amazing and we need more of them. But they are like herding cats.   

Now, before you think we’re anti-community (we're not), let’s explore this further. In recent years we have learned that if you want to build community, it starts by doing hard things in service to others and doing those things together.  

It's about how a group starts. When we start with mission – activities to make the world a better place – we ultimately realize we can’t do this alone. We need others to do it with and we need others to do it for. And when we join teams and groups to do something for the world, community is built along the way. It happens naturally. We share in the struggle.  

Have you been asked to be part of a community? Run for the hills!

Have you been asked to be part of something that brings more and more beauty, energy and joy to the world? Join that! And when you do, expect community to be built along the way.