Being part of a #community means more than living or working in one. #QuoteADay #Day159 #edchat #edu
I like to think of there being three rules for joining a community:
1. You have to understand the community to truly be a part of it.
2. You have to engage in/with the community to truly be a part of it.
3. You have to care about the community to truly be a part of it.
Let's look at each of these "rules" one by one.
First, for someone to really be a part of the community, they have to understand the community that they want to be a part of. This means knowing the community's history, the people who are already a part of it (and what their wants and needs are), and areas in which the community is really successful and lacking. Understanding the community requires a lot of time, and leaders and learners who want to deeply know the community they want to be a part of need to be willing to invest the time to do so. This isn't easy, and it requires a willingness to sit down and read and study about a place and a group of people that may be totally foreign to you.
Second, to be a part of the community, you have to engage in/with it. That means that you have to visit the people and places that already call the community home. Eating in local restaurants, visiting cultural sights, attending community gatherings, and making small talk (or deep talk) with the people who make up the community is an important step towards being, and being seen as a community member. In some cases, engaging with the community can go so far as actually living and working in the same general area, providing a jump start towards engagement.
Finally, leaders and learners have to truly care about the community to truly be a part of it. This goes beyond simply learning about it or engaging with people, to actually being invested in what happens in the community. Voting for school budgets and town boards is one way. So is volunteering at charity events and helping with gatherings like a town clean up or building of a new park.
These three rules don't automatically make you a part of the community, but they do help build your community capacity. Just because you're "in" a community, doesn't mean you're "part" of one. Better to know, engage, and care about your place of work or home than to see it as just another "location."