What I Have Learned About Building Community
Community to me is, at its core, self selecting and self creating. There is no guaranteed formula for constructing such a thing – it evolves out of itself.
That means to start a community isn’t very much like building a house to your specifications. Its more like drumming up support for the idea of a neighborhood building, and then supporting others as they help build it. The thing is, that while you get a building, they will get the building that they need.
Thats how it goes with community. Its about shaping, not directing. Providing the space for things to happen that are all more or less going in the same direction.
If done well then the result is a thriving self sustaining culture. One that self populates, self determines, self fuels. People will pass through it, add some things, remove or destroy others as they go. This momentum should sustain itself and if done well it will make you, as an individual, necessarily expendable and/or obsolete.
That doesn’t mean there is no role for the community builder. Far from it. There is much to do. But it is a difficult role and hard to always get right. You must seed the right foundational ideas, slowly adding people to the ideas – taking them deeper, helping them see why this gathering is necessary and how they can play a role in it, enabling them to add their own vision to the embryonic gathering.
Thats the job we have taken on – Kristen and I. Coko is a community that is working towards changing the way we create and communicate knowledge. We know community can be hard but its the only way such massive ambitious change can happen. We know it will work but we don’t know exactly how. We also know we will make mistakes getting there but by holding on to the principles of transparency, collaboration, and openness we hope that you will help us get it right and forgive us for where we get it wrong.
Post by Adam Hyde in collaboration with Kristen Ratan.