On Saturday morning, we had some cafe conversations on the topic of communities: what are they and what makes them effective. This approach to generative thinking, where the members of the group add there perspectives and build on the thoughts of others is really insightful.
At the end, I got a "blinding flash of the obvious" and shared my new-found model with the others. I also drew a picture for Barbara Markoff, the new Manager of Community Development in Milwaukee.
Picture a bull's-eye target with several concentric rings. This represents a community. A community depends on some common interests. These interests could be politics, religious beliefs, a school, a family, quality, energy sources, the Q-BoK, etc. The closer to the center, the more specific the common interests and the easier it is for the community to form. As the rings get smaller, the professionalism generally increases.
There are three arrows going into the target and one arrow coming out.
- A community requires repeated interaction to exist. This interaction used to be face-to-face. Now it can also include virtual interactions. But the interactions must repeat.
- A community requires a safe and comfortable environment. Members of the community must feel welcome and enjoy themselves.
- A community must ask members to contribute and recognize that contribution. Most people learned from childhood not to volunteer for anything, but will contribute to the success of the group if asked. Recognition can be private, public, and both.
- Going out of the community is outreach to others. This is the only way to prevent stagnation. Through reaching out, others will join and add diversity to the community's population. Diversity will promote innovation and all those other wonderful things.
This model, developed from the generative conversations of the cafe, seemed to be well accepted.