I’ve been thinking a lot lately about community. This term gets thrown around all over the place. But what is it? Where does it come from? What does it look like?
After a quick google search, here are a couple of definitions I found for “community:”
- a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
- a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.
These are the two that I most often associate with when using the term community I think. Maybe it is the COVID era we are all in or maybe it is something else but for the past few weeks, I’ve really been trying to dig into what community means to me, where I find it, how I interact with it, and how I can help be a better member of it.
This is hard as community isn’t some pre-designed, poured foundation that I can just go to. It evolves as I evolve. As my thoughts change. Yes, I do have my community of friends that live on my street near Downtown Edmond but I actually have come to feel like the location of community for me is really the outside shell of this crazy onion of an idea.
As I think about community and the impact it has on me, I have created a few Community Boxes for myself that all hold a special place.
Community Box #1: Coffee
For 15 or so years, coffee was my community. The people that came to EVOKE, the people who hired us to come serve coffee at their events, the people I had the privilege to work along side with everyday, our vendors and industry partners, the City of Edmond, and more.
This was a tight group of people that looked after each other. Served each other. Worked together to do our small part in making our wider community (and hopefully world) better starting on the corner of 1st and Broadway.
We would challenge ourselves and each other. We would have hard conversation and mostly have a beer afterwards. We would start each day wondering what it held and how we were going to make it awesome. It was a deep dive in hospitality and service that is a bit hard to explain but, as Anthony Bourdain said..
“Meals make the society, hold the fabric together in lots of ways that were charming and interesting and intoxicating to me. The perfect meal, or the best meals, occur in a context that frequently has very little to do with the food itself.”Anthony Bourdain / via BookPage Interview
This was our family and still is really but after leaving the full time hustle and bustle world of coffee, I have had to look at other boxes to sustain that.
Community Box #2: Online Social Mentors
Social mentors.. what I mean here are people that I have come across through social media. Celebrities maybe? It’s funny but the few I hold closest don’t feel like untouchable famous folks but more of friends and people I look up to. I listen to their podcasts. I read their articles. I follow their accomplishments through pictures and video. I listen and learn from their experiences.
In fact, there is a “closeness” that I feel with a handful of these folks that is strange and funny to think about. They have no idea who I am. There are thousands of others that follow them, too. The sheer meaning of friendship is a two way street that for sure isn’t open to me with this group. Either way though, it is a community of inspiration and challenge that I have created in this box that really helps fuel, map, and shape what I want to be now and into the future. Here are a few people that are a part of this for me:
- Rich Roll (and his guests!) – Athlete / Author / Podcast Host
- Jesse Iztler – Leader / Entrepreneur / Author / Motivator / Family Guy
- Sara Blakely – Leader / Entrepreneur / Family Gal
- Tommy Rivs (and his wife Steph– Trail Runner / Family / Writer / Cancer Fighter
- Yvon Chouinard – Entrepreneur / Climber / Activist
There are more. Always more. But these are 5 that I tune in to nearly daily for advice and inspiration and motivation and more.
Community Box #3: Real World
It would be strange for there not to be a box for that real world community. Those you can touch, hug (safely), bounce ideas off, and feel at home with. These are great people that I ride with. Talk city politics with. Eat meals with (remember that AB quote above?). Run with.
This box is the realness of community. It’s personal. It’s accountable.
Real World Community. This one seems so easy on paper but is really hard as well. This inner circle of people that fuel passions, goals, challenges, life….. People that think like me. Believe in the things I believe in. Push me and challenge me.
This community doesn’t have to be just like me but this box for sure centers around those that are in my corner and help me grow on that “soul” level. These are my people.
I’m sure there will be more boxes I define as I go but in the long run, it doesn’t matter. My goal is to allow for inspiration and to let all of these people in. It is healthy. It is needed. It is something that keeps me focused on what is ahead.
I will have more on all of this and how I’ve really been trying to surround myself with people that keep me going. That make my community stronger. I’ve also been focusing on how I can be strong for others as well – it is a two way street remember!
What is your community? I’d love to hear your thoughts as, well, you guys are also a part of my mine and I value the chance to learn from you and get better.
Let’s chat it out!