“Whatever the problem, community is the answer.”
This quote from Margaret Wheatley could have been the mantra for “Engaging Community. Narrating Change.” last fall with John McKnight, Peter Block and Walter Brueggemann and continues to be the mantra for the people who seek to create community everywhere in their daily lives.
Building upon what 350+ Memphians learned about creating community last November, Center for Transforming Communities (CTC) invited participants to continue the conversation and explore a different vision for creating community - one that changes perspective and emphasis from problems to possibilities. The vision supports an abundant, satisfying, and strong community that emerges from naming and building upon the existing gifts and assets of individuals living in a neighborhood.
Drawing upon the methodologies of discussion and community building (i.e. knee-to-knee three person groups of “strangers”) introduced by Block, McKnight and Brueggemann, CTC continued to introduce participants to various conversation methods to engage in a lively dialogue about community at a recent gathering at The Commons. Participants shared moving and interesting stories about how an assets/gifts approach has been applied to build and strengthen community in their neighborhoods along with concrete ideas for learning and sharing “practices of community.”
Here are a few insights from the evening. (To read the full notes from the meeting, click here.)
Our culture often mistakes the event (the gala, the luncheon with a keynote speaker, the conference, etc.) as community. In our modern era, the event has taken the place of community. We need a re-imagining of events as an experience of and catalyst for ‘true’ community.
Storytelling moves individuals from being reduced to sound bites (or a recital of a resume) to seeing other, deeper dimensions of our humanity. Crafting agendas and space for small group conversations and for people to share their story at a more personal level brings healing and connection – necessities of life. In sharing and hearing our individual stories, we begin to get a glimpse of the universal story in which we are all interrelated.
Living an attitude of abundance is indeed a paradigm shift. And, it is living out of this paradigm shift that deep community is experienced. It requires a shift of values and language from doing for or giving to another person to values and language that recognizes everybody as having gifts to contribute.
There is more to come! We are just at the beginning of what is possible when we support each other in being intentional about community. There will be more invitations and opportunities to explore a different vision for creating community. Visit the CTC website for more information or to sign up for our enewsletter at www.ctcmidsouth.org.