Seth Godin talks about Tribes; Facebook and LinkedIn have Groups; Scott Heiferman co-founded Meetup.com; Nirav Tolia co-founded Nextdoor.com; historians talk about neighborhoods in China dating back to the 6th century.
What they all have in common is that they are communities; groups of people joining together to share common interests, to provide support to others in the community, and to seek help from others in the community when needed.
I’d like to share some events of the past month that have highlighted the power of communities.
We are blessed to live in a wonderful neighborhood known as Conestoga Village. About a month ago we had our annual holiday progressive dinner party. This event involves three neighbors willing to share their home first for cocktails, followed by dinner at another neighbor’s house, and ending with dessert at a third house. Neighbors provide all the food and beverages for the dinner, and it is a great time to catch up with old neighbors, and to meet new ones.
We’ve also had some sad times in Conestoga Village, with neighbors dying or getting a serious illness. Once again, the power of the neighborhood becomes evident. Whether it’s providing meals for those in need, cutting their lawn, or putting together a gift basket and providing words of encouragement, the neighborhood is one of the ultimate support systems available.
And now neighborhoods have gone high-tech; Seth Godin would be proud. In his book Tribes he states, “A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.” Based on that definition our neighborhood is certainly a tribe. We share an interest in making Conestoga Village a great place to live, and we have always had ways to communicate. When we first moved here, notices got out by handing out flyers door to door; now we use Nextdoor.com.
If you are not familiar with Nextdoor.com, it is a hyperlocal Facebook/Craigslist/community bulletin board. With Nextdoor.com, neighbors can ask around for babysitting services, advice on choosing a plumber, or making announcement about community meetings. Just yesterday, a neighbor lost their dog; an hour later there was a post placed on Nextdoor.com from a woman saying she had found a dog and gave her phone number. A short while later, dog and owner were reunited. That’s the power of a neighborhood, of a community.
The final example of the power of community is the one that got me started with this daily blogging – the #writeandrun31 group on Facebook. Started by Matt Frazier and his sister Christine, the group was created for people who perhaps had set some fitness and creativity goals for themselves for the New Year, and were looking for like-minded people to share such a journey. The group has exceeded my wildest imagination; the amount of support, encouragement, feedback, advice, and accountability has probably been the best online experience I have had. So thank you Matt and Christine, and all the members of this tribe.
I think the above examples highlight the potential of the Internet and neighborhoods. They both serve as a way to connect us with other people, to make us feel that we are a valued part of a community.
The Internet enables us to sit at our computers and interact with people from around the world who share the same interests and goals, and congratulate us when we successfully complete our first 5K. Our neighborhood allows us to step outside and talk sports for a few minutes with the mailman, or to borrow some sugar from a neighbor.
The power of community – it doesn’t have to be anything profound, it just has to provide that human connection we all want and need.