If you read my earlier posts in this series on Belonging and Abode, it would be reasonable for you to conclude that I don’t feel a strong sense of community anywhere. I thought so at first, too. But on further reflection, I’m quite wrong.
Community, as Joan defines it for this exercise I am partaking in—The Eight Days of New Year BALANCE—doesn’t necessarily involve a strong sense of belonging, but more a recognition of participating or sharing with a constellation of humans who have common interests or a common goal. Any community we thus engage with can be loose or tight, but each one contributes in some way to our lives, our well-being, or our growth.
With my largest lens, I can accept this view of community:
A true community is not just about being geographically close to someone or part of the same social web network. It’s about feeling connected and responsible for what happens. Humanity is our ultimate community, and everyone plays a crucial role.Yehuda Berg
So, I’ll take this prompt to share with you a few of the communities I currently am connected to and value tremendously.
There are a number of distinct friend groups I get together with regularly. These groups sustain and lift me emotionally or intellectually, and often both.
For example, ever since the start of the pandemic and the lockdown in 2020, there are six of us women living in Manila, members of what used to be a book club, who now meet every Saturday on Zoom for our Sundowner, each with our own beverage of choice, to check in on each other, tell stories, vent when needed, spar a bit on random topics, and just share a laugh or two… or three.
I similarly benefit from a few other marvelous groups like this, even transnational ones that challenge us with global time zones.
Because the pandemic hasn’t allowed in-person meetings, our monthly play-reading group also moved online to Zoom. This, too, is a Manila-based group, one that has been meeting to read plays (as if for radio) for decades, and I joined, oh, maybe 15+ years ago. Meeting online is a distant second choice to the camaraderie felt when we met at members’ homes, complete with potluck dinners and dessert, but we’re all glad the sessions have continued.
A few months ago, I became a member of the Carl Jung Circle Center in the Philippines. I’ve known a handful of the close-knit members for some years, having participated in their events over the past years, and am now enjoying diving deeper into depth psychology with the study sessions they offer.
The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.Coretta Scott King
Social media, while not a cohesive community, can bring people together; at least it does so on my personal profile on FB. I am continually delighted and encouraged by the kind and caring words of friends around the world when I share bits of my personal situation.
One other fun example of social media community is when, a few years ago, a classmate from my childhood school in Helsinki recognized my name in a health-related group we both belonged to. Now a dozen or so of us classmates are reconnected, nearly half a century later.
Finally, I profit well from my steady engagement in several FB groups, in particular those business communities where members have common pursuits and interests. We share feedback, ideas, and learn new skills together. You could say these are informal mastermind groups.
Empathy is the starting point for creating a community and taking action. It’s the impetus for creating change.Max Carver
There are three nonprofit communities dedicated to making the world a better place that have a solid spot in my heart and in my schedule. Knowing, and having worked with, the leaders behind these initiatives personally, I shamelessly plug them here and can confidently say that all three are worthy of your support.
I’ve been named an ambassador for two nonprofits:
Project PEARLS—actively eases the lives of the poorest of the poor in communities in the Philippines with much-needed programs in education, scholarships, hunger relief, Christmas drives, health care, emergency relief, women’s empowerment, and more.
MAD-Aid—a UK-based charity runs programs to improve the lives of children and youth with disabilities and elders in Phoenix Complex, in northern Moldova, one of the poorest countries in Europe.
The third nonprofit I care deeply about and have helped in the background is Green Releaf. This team is an ecosystem activator and enabler of regenerative initiatives. Based on solid post-disaster experience, they are now preparing to advance typhoon Odette/Rai relief efforts with a regenerative aid lab for creating Emergency Gardens.
So, you see, I have a lot more community-involvement than I thought at first blush. Making this exercise all the more illuminating and valuable to me.
We are constituted so that simple acts of kindness, such as giving to charity or expressing gratitude, have a positive effect on our long-term moods. The key to the happy life, it seems, is the good life: a life with sustained relationships, challenging work, and connections to community.Paul Bloom
What are your key communities? And how are they important to you?