At the winter gatherings we explored different perspectives on communities, including what people give and take from these, especially in the context of the Social Age. Sea Salt Learning were our partners for these events and Julian Stodd is an active voice in this space sharing his researched views on the Social Age and Social Leadership widely on his blog. The insight most relevant to where we are with our communities is this: in the Social Age we are moving to a situation where rather than focusing on the organisation and its structure, we are recognising the structure is there but realising that we will be more effective by using community type arrangements based on trust to be effective in making things happen. Julian’s research offers that our ability to link these two things is a core aspect of Social Leadership.
Through conversations, facilitated exercises and a short survey, the data and feedback from the events revealed some shared, albeit initial, inspirations. There was a strong sense of a shared enthusiasm, curiosity and desire to make change happen through connected communities. These contributions are informing our thinking, and specifically our collective early definitions of community. Two dominant definitions of community are emerging:
We want to use these important insights as a springboard into what we do together next – part 3 of our series will ask for your input and thoughts on this and our other themes of leadership and stories of dissent.
If we look wider than Julian’s work and our own initial events, we can see that community means many things to many people. If we take each of the two points separately we can see firstly that there is much about what joins people – e.g. shared values, culture, purpose, geography, beliefs, identity. We can see from a number of examples that shared experiences, be they positive or negative are also a strong connector for people coming together in communities. Well known examples range from the GetUp Campaign in Australia and Black Lives Matter based in the US.
As for community ownership, we can see that most think everyone owns it and a few believe nobody owns it. For us in the project lift team we are mindful of something Julian reminds us of which is this: when we want to enable community, remembering that we don’t own it is key. Hillary Cottam’s experiments offer good examples of this in practice. We want to hold true to this hence our commitment to see ourselves holding open spaces for leaders at all levels to come together to explore possibilities, different perspectives and shared stories.
We want to hear from you – you are the key to our communities transforming Health and Social Care in Scotland. Black Lives Matter, GetUp, Airbnb, and Hillary Cottam’s work are all examples of talking about and using community differently, to enable change, to provide services and with a range of success and impact. If you’d like to explore the social age further you can check out Julian’s blog and if you are interested in how communities and social movements are linked and impacting on work, life and issues around the world you could take a look at one of project lift’s recommended books New Power by Henry Timms & Jeremy Heimans. We also recommend Hillary Cottam’s book Radical Help.
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Speak soon when we look at our second communities theme – leadership!