Community Building is Needed Now More than Ever

Community Building: It’s Time

I’ve been bringing people together – community building – long before I even had a name for what it was I was doing.

The greatest obstacle in my business is the word “community” itself because the word has been watered down, and “community building” is often mistaken for community development. They are not the same thing.

What is “Community”?

A community is one of the most wonderful places on the planet. If you are with people who know you, who care about you, who accept and value you, who support you, and who are happy just because you’re there, well, it doesn’t get much better than that.

In the past, communities formed naturally around our desire to satisfy our needs for food, water, shelter, etc. Nobody had to do community building then. In the occasions of getting together to support one another, communities grew organically. 

It is Not Like That Today

First, our basic survival needs are mostly met so the impetus for connection has gone away. Second, we’re all so busy trying to make a living that, as they say, we don’t have time to make a life. The situation was bad when Robert Putnam wrote about it in Bowling Alone back in 2000. On the Amazon page of the original version in talking about the United States, he said it is a nation

“in which we have become increasingly disconnected from one another and in which our social structures have disintegrated.”

Note the publication date – 2000 – this was twenty years before COVID-19 precautions locked the world down and isolated us. Things have not improved since Putnam published this book.

They Have Gotten Much, Much Worse

As I mention in this video:

  • The Surgeon General of the US put out an advisory in the spring of 2023 that we have a loneliness epidemic.
  • We now have something that’s being called the friendship recession
  • A recent article in the Atlantic said that too much aloneness is creating a crisis of social fitness.
  • CNN Health reports that loneliness and isolation are linked to sleep problems, inflammation, and immune changes in younger adults.
  • In older people, it’s been linked to pain, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and a shorter lifespan.
  • The risks to all of us? Heart disease, stroke, diabetes, addiction, suicidality, self-harm, and dementia.

“Social connection is as essential to humanity as food, water or shelter.”CNN REPORT

This isn’t just Concerning – it’s an Urgent Problem Our Society Faces

And it’s an invisible problem. You can’t tell by looking at someone that they are lonely.

Generally, we have satisfied what Maslow calls our physiological and safety needs. Now we are struggling to fulfill our needs for belonging and love. In the hierarchy, this is the third rung from the bottom, and it stands in the way of our needs for esteem and self-actualization which follow. As important as self-care and self-love are, they don’t fulfill our need for love and belonging. Human beings need other human beings in order to be healthy and happy. We need to achieve a balance of alone time and community time.

And we need to reach out to others with kindness because we never know when one small gesture, one small kindness, will save a life.

We need to build communities with the people we live, work, and play with. Most people have never experienced how it feels to belong to a real community and that’s a shame because anybody can build one! I spent nearly three years dissecting the process so I could share this knowledge through my book, Sounding the Drum: Community Building in the Digital Age! You can find it right here!

Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash