At the time of this writing, we are in the midst of one of the most tumultuous years in recent history. Certainly of my slightly longer than a half-century life. We just stumbled into 2021 and not together. We were tripping and elbowing and hollering at each other all the way across the line and the stumble stagger still hasn’t stopped. It feels appropriate to recognize that saying the number of the new year comes out 2020 won. I wish that was funnier.
So, we’re going to build a connected community together. Or at least you’re curious enough to have picked up the book and flipped to the first chapter. Maybe you’re in your hippy friends bathroom and this book is your only option for reading material. Whatever. I’m going to take you seriously because this work is desperately needed and I am going to hope that even if you are stuck in your hippy friend’s bathroom that you might get sucked into this story and decide to be an instigator. So, from here on out, I’m going to talk to you like you’ve taken the plunge. You bought the IKEA cabinet and brought it home and now you’re reading the directions so you can put all the parts together right. You can imagine that cabinet all done, looking great in your kitchen and full of all the snacks and dishes that make life complete. Motivated. Passionate. Relentless. Sorry about switching metaphors but it felt like the bathroom one got sketchy when I used the word plunge.
I'm going to post a new section of my book, temporarily titled "How to Build Connected Community," every week. I invite you to read, comment, ask questions, or share stories. Your input will improve the expression of our community voice. Thank you for being part of my community and joining me on this project.
We’ve got some big problems. The human race that is. All of us. These problems show up in every space where humans interact with each other or are supposed to. They show up in the way we interact with our environment and how we feel about ourselves. They show up in our mental, emotional, behavioral, and physical health. They’re complex and they’re not going to go away by ignoring them. They’re also not going to go away by continuing to problem solve in the same way we’ve been problem-solving so far. We can’t just respond to each crisis as it shows up. We need to be preventive. Or even better, we need to promote health.
I'm going to write a book in 2021.
It's about building connected community and the underlying concept is that it's up to the people in the community to pull it off. We can't wait for our traditional leaders to tell us how to be. They are a reflection of us and we need to change our culture and norms from our grassroots core if we want to be healthy individually and corporately. This happens by intentionalizing the quality of our individual, organizational, and institutional relationships. We need a better, more connected narrative.
This book will be based on a lot of science from different fields brought together to reveal startlingly familiar implications. It will also grow out of a couple decades as a community psychologist (professionally since 2019 and more of a community geek before that).
Since this is a book about community, I'd like to enlist you, my community, to help write it. To do this, I'm going to post sections to my blog every week. I'll attempt to do it in order so that readers will get a sense of the book's progression. What I'm asking you for are your questions, comments, and stories. I'll use these in the book (with permission). Each section will contain a quote, a summary, the main content, some stories, and Q&A about the concepts and applications. If you'd like to be a part, you can sign up to receive blog posts here: http://eepurl.com/gKeIZv.
You can also check progress on my website blog page: https://www.connected.buzz/blog. You are on that page right now...
I'll send a free copy of the finished book to the 50 most interactive readers. I'm looking forward to sharing this adventure with you!
I'm just trying to look friendly so you'll read my book...
The Influencer's Simple Guide to Social Restoration
In almost all of my experiences with organization and community building, the need to shift focus from problem to possibility comes up repeatedly. Prevention and health promotion need more attention while we remain vigilant with crisis response. The greatest prevention was and always will be healthy social connection. Belonging is the shared experience of social connection. To bring the elements of prevention and belonging together, I created a tool called KNOTS. This simple tool looks upstream for the individual and then opens doors for that person to invest their identity in ways that bring them deep satisfaction and meaning. It relies on an interdependent synergy of giving and receiving. And it uses story to spread the contagion of connection as a new norm for our culture. In short, KNOTS is the answer to the problem of disconnection that focuses on the upstream need for prevention and health promotion.
Know yourself: What are the most powerful characteristics of your character in your story? What are your perspectives, resources, passions, and natural tendencies? How much extra time and energy do you have?
Notice others: pay attention to what’s going on around you. Not everywhere, but in your particular circles of influence. You will notice when opportunities arise that might benefit from your participation.
Offer what you have: This is a mix of Know and Notice. When you identify an opportunity, if you have something to offer that might help, do so. There is a trick to this one though. You can’t offer what you don’t have. It’s like a governor to protect you from overextending yourself. The next step extends this thought.
Take what you need: Be humble enough to realize that if you are offering, others are too. That means that sometimes you’re going to be on the receiving end. When this happens, don’t resist, be grateful. This is where the resources you need when it’s your turn to offer come from.
Share the story: Finally, when this exchange happens, it’s a story that needs telling. This kind of exchange is what healthy communities are made of. Since culture is defined and sustained by story, we need to share ours. Sharing is different than telling. It speaks of a mutuality and building something together - the story of “how we do it here.”
I write semi-regularly about belonging, storytelling, community building,