Movement is what makes us unique and often what unites us with the people we spend our days with. It gives us the opportunity to not only connect with others but more importantly with ourselves. Movement is our constant reminder that our body is a complex mechanism designed for creativity & expression. It teaches us that we are alive. It makes us human again (I say again because some of us have forgotten to move). – Jian Pablico co-owner of Distrikt Movement
One of the most frustrating things to happen while making change is when everything stops. Or worse, the same conversations and problems repeatedly take place with no break-through. In this instance, it is important to acknowledge the stagnation and shift the conversation to strategies that breathe new life into the cause.
Shifting from complaining about problems to analyzing their causes and how to affect change allows mental stretching to begin. Like the body stretching before a workout becomes reacquainted with its muscles; moving beyond the complaining allows the cause to be reacquainted with its vision. Identifying where your collective needs momentum, where it needs creativity, and where it needs new ways of expression results in moving forward. This also requires accountability in the form of an action plan. With a clear action plan in place, stagnation is avoided. Instead of returning to a point of complaining about recurring problems, the conversation is about accountability: What was done? What wasn’t done? What tasks need a different approach? How do we move forward?
Movement leads to progression. Task-oriented approaches linked to accountability elicit results. Results encourage people to continue to invest their time in the work. When people feel part of a cause with momentum, vision and focus, they are energized to continue making a difference. Community building can be tireless work. Take the time stretch, exercise creativity and remember that the life that exists within the cause needs to be nurtured.
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.
My writing journey has been full of unexpected detours. One such detour is an exercise in healing I undertook over three years ago. To write and submit a piece to an anthology for survivors of sexual assault. The appeal of the Dear Sister anthology was that it aimed to be a tool of healing, a tool that both survivors and allies of survivors could contribute to and have their voices heard, respected and believed. In the early months of 2014, Dear Sister accomplished this very goal.
The piece of writing I contributed to this project does not reflect the genre or niche in which I envision to establish myself. Nonetheless, it is my writing and an important piece of my writing. The process of writing this piece moved me further along the journey to connect to the passion that drives me to communicate important messages with people who value building healthy and connected communities.
If this topic is important to you, your family, the people who you educate or engage with for healthy living and life free from past traumas, please check it out. Dear Sister is currently engaged in a North American launch tour. You can find more information on tour dates and events on their Facebook page. And you can contact AK Press directly to order a copy (or several!) for your community building purposes!