Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Can You Have One Without The Other?

As a community organizer, one of the things I get the most thrill from is coalition building--bringing together different organizations, groups and people--for a common goal. The word "community" takes on various forms to various people. For me, community is something that co-exists, that is multifaceted, big and small, diverse and the same. The challenge is how to build community and sustain it.

 When I meet people who join causes like the ones The Collective Advocates create and help create, initially I find people are eager to do something to effect change. But the more we grow and expand as individuals the more we see people will either step into a certain role and develop fully while few others will grow in another way, sometimes in opposition to the good of the common cause. What do you do with the latter? When the common goal is one of raising consciousness or helping people to feel connected, it's often frustrating and honestly, quite difficult, to focus efforts on the ones who have along the way, begun to see the common thread not so common.

When I start a new relationship, of any kind, I often think about trust. Trust, a value that's very under-discussed, and at times, at the root of the thread of commonality that gets broken. To build community one has to build trust, then faith that people will participate, willingly, knowing how valuable each others contributions are. The hard part is not knowing any one's history with trust when you meet them and then trying to figure out how to work with what may have been broken. The question I have is, is working with individual trust within a community as important as working at the trust of the community?


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