Conversation is where community building starts. A conversation between two friends, a couple, two mothers or a group of co-workers can sow the seeds of initiative and action.
The first step in any process begins with the communication of ideas. For a project to emerge, a program to develop, or an event to be planned, it begins with a few people getting together and talking. Communication is the primary vehicle for moving an idea from concept to reality. Once the conversation moves beyond a casual exchange of ideas to an articulation of a goal with a plan, you have a foundation for action.
A few weeks ago, I made plans to go for coffee with a woman who I met through volunteer work. She and I have similar interests when it comes to writing and engaging in community work. The plan is simply to go for coffee and talk – talk about our mutual experiences, our independent career goals, and our visions. We want to create the time and space where the two of us can debrief and reflect. What comes of this conversation may simply be a lighter feeling of having shared experiences and aired frustrations. Or perhaps, this conversation will have planted a few seeds that grow into action.
So go for that coffee.
Throw a potluck.
Start a book club.
Start a walking club.
No matter what the activity, as long as there is a space for conversation there is a space for the community. Of course, additional skills are needed to nurture the seeds that are planted during conversations, but never underestimate the power of the valuable act of bringing people together and talking.