A group of people does not become a true Community by accident or without effort. There is a structure to Community Building and a set of specific principles that must be learned and put into action. These principles include:
A true Community is always inclusive. The greatest enemy to Community, in fact, is exclusivity. Exclusivity typically takes two forms. The first is when others are excluded because of how they are different. What remains is not a community but a a clique. The second form is when individuals exclude themselves because of preconceptions about the group or because the experience feels too demanding. Getting beyond what separates us in order to experience true Community requires us to let go of these barriers as they surface.
Participation takes many forms. Speaking is not required. Non-verbal participation can be as powerful as other forms. However, it is important to be attentive and involved. Please also be on time for each session and come to your seat with an open mind for the journey you have begun. Like many things, we get out of Community in proportion to what we put into it. The greater our participation the greater our gain.
Community Building requires group members to make a commitment to each other and to the group as a whole. If you cannot finish the Workshop, please do not start it. When individuals leave or withdraw, they disrupt the group and can make it more difficult for those left behind to continue the journey. If things are not going to your liking — if you’re experiencing confusion, frustration, anxiety, and even despair — rather than leaving or withdrawing from the group, consider expressing your dissatisfaction. Although it may not feel like your complaining, this is very often a great gift to the Community.
Confidentiality is an essential measure of respect for yourself and other members of the group. There will be no videos, photographs or other recordings of the group. If you keep a journal, you’re only to write about your personal experience and not about anyone in the group or anything they said. When discussing your experience with others, keep your comments to your experience and leave out the other members of your group. As we like to say, you have the right to tell your story but not the right to tell someone else’s story.