• Wendy,

    A wonderful post. Community is so essential yet, at times, it seems so challenging to get, especially the way you describe. In the hustle-bustle world, we sometimes don’t get a chance to know our neighbors. Convenience prevails over community so we need to make the effort. It is easier to build community in work; it is more challenging outside of “normal” hours. It is a challenge, however, worth pursuing.

    The past few months I have been working to build community outside of work and immediate family. It can be tough at times but well worth it.

    Great discussion! Thanks. Jon

    February 05, 2013
    • Hi Jon,
      Maybe it’s about scale? Maybe it’s about being out and about in our communities, rather than behind walls, fences, closed doors … ? I am glad you are finding your efforts worthwhile. Love to hear what you are doing to build community and what kind of meaning or satisfaction it is bringing to you and your family. Let me know as this is an ongoing interest, particularly in our 24/7 world.
      So delighted you joined the discussion, Jon!

      February 05, 2013
  • amy

    Great post Wendy, and really relevant for most all of us, esp. those who no longer live where they grew up.
    When I read your last two questions, I immediately rephrased them in my mind to:
    “Have you created your tribe?
    Have you found your community?”
    I never thought about it with those words before – it was very helpful – thanks!

    February 05, 2013
    • Thanks, Amy! Glad you found my post useful. I like your rephrase. For those of us who have pulled up our roots, perhaps the search for community is more pressing?

      February 05, 2013
  • What a lovely look at what I see as the resurgence of our understanding of the importance of true community in our lives. Having just found and read Charles Eisenstein’s book Sacred Economics, I understand how the current system we have created, has moved us far away from the roots of where we have all come from. Community. In our fast paced urban lifestyles, it is often challenging to be in community. Sounds like what you have found is very precious indeed!

    February 05, 2013
  • Hi Wendy,
    One of our friends immediately sent us your post. Like you, we have been struggling with the right words to get some clarity on that too big word “community.” Our journey led to our book We Need Each Other: Building Gift Community (with strong influence of Charles Eisenstein). We hold the words “family, tribe and village” as distinctions useful to identify our relative commitment with face-to-face people locally. Much as I appreciate Seth’s global affinity “tribe,” the reclaiming of what you and I knew as kids will be within bicycle distance. You might enjoy our website (http://www.weneedeachother.net/). Do let us know if it is useful and if we can send you our book.
    Bill & Zoe

    February 06, 2013
    • Hi Bill and Zoe,
      The amazing world of the internet. Glad you found me. I checked out your website and I am gratified to learn of what you are all creating there. I’d be delighted to receive the PDF of your book. So many feel isolated and separate and are in search of community. I am happy to share your website URL.

      February 06, 2013
  • Fantastic post, Wendy. You put words around an experience I’ve had for some time, but had not been able to articulate. I had a huge tribe and not enough community.

    The temptation sometimes, especially in larger urban areas, it to bond just with like-minded folks. The assumption is that those around us who don’t necessarily share our tribe affiliations will view requests for help or offers of assistance as unwelcome intrusion.

    A few years ago, on my small cul-de-sac, a neighbor hosted a holiday gathering. It came to light during the evening that many of us had had health or other challenges during the course of the year….caring for elderly parents, bad backs, cancer, etc. All of us would have been more than happy to pick up groceries, give rides to the airport/appointments, cat/dog sit, etc., but no one wanted to “inconvenience” anyone. The vibe has shifted now and we are on our way to being a community. It’s lovely. You’ve tapped into something that feels like a lost art form, at least in certain parts of the world.

    February 06, 2013
    • Hi Janet,
      Thanks! How wonderful that you’re developing community where you live. What a gift that the conversation at your holiday party tapped into a collective need. Most folks feel good about being able to help others and don’t experience it as an inconvenience to be asked. Yet, we’re afraid to ask for the help even though we would want others to ask us. Pause for thought …
      Thanks for stopping by to comment, Janet.

      February 06, 2013
  • Hi Wendy,
    I loved your post as it really got me to think about the importance of community. Knowing people are there when we need them to get through difficult times is so important. The thing with tribes is that I often want to have more face-to-face connections with the people in the tribes. I would like to make the tribes more personal. Is that even possible or necessary? Thanks again for opening up this dialogue.

    February 06, 2013
    • Hi Terry,
      This post seems to have struck a cord. I can understand your desire to build more personal connections with your tribe. As many of us have gotten more isolated (travel in cars, order merchandise online, take out food, etc.), community has seemed more elusive. But for me, it has become more important.

      Glad you’ve joined the conversation.

      February 06, 2013
  • Very interesting food for thought for me who has been “in the air” for 20 years.

    If I understood you well, my tribe would be composed mainly of expat friends I met face to face in countries I used to live before and other global nomads/citizens I met online and with whom I share same understanding of issues, joy and emotional struggles/ and rewards of living abroad.

    So my real community today is made of my friends living in Moscow. I am talking about expats and Russians living in my neighborhood of Arbat and other central areas. It is even smaller than a village maybe 100 people I have met and among them 10 are really best friends. We can count on each other to share surviving tips, emulate each other to go to sports or cultural visits and learning Russian. We are there and we meet often for pure socialization or for work.

    Did I understood you well Wendy ?

    February 07, 2013
    • Hi Anne,
      Yes, you pretty much understood how I am framing community and tribe. The words are meant to help make distinctions between the two. I think many of us have confused our tribe with our community and the expectation that a tribe would or could provide what one gets from a community and vice-versa.
      I am glad you’ve created community in your new home, Anne!

      February 07, 2013
  • So my spin on this is that we can build community as you describe (not just tribal relationships) in our work, our organizations, at least at the local level. “Each member of my community is quirky (including me) and made up of people who I probably wouldn’t know otherwise.” Isn’t this true of our working community as well for many of us? What if work could be the kind of place where this same level of support and caring could exist? I think it can (I’ve seen it.) Thanks so much for this engaging post on one of my favorite topics. 🙂

    February 07, 2013
    • Hi Scott,
      Why not? It’s encouraging that you’ve seen it. People who work inside organizations spend so much time with one another that it would be great if they created community there.

      As I work with teams in organizations, I rarely see the kind of community I describe. When we do “get to know each other activities” as part of team development, there are such basic things that folks don’t seem to know about one another. Then there is that premise, “leave your personal life at home.” Let’s hope that changes!

      Didn’t realize this was one of your favorite topics 🙂 Thanks for stopping by to comment, Scott!

      February 07, 2013
  • Hmmm….this has me thinking. I have been building the Lead With Giants “Community” as you know across Social Media Platforms. Per your definition I should call it a “Tribe.” I understand the distinction you are making, but I’m not sure we need to make it.

    Sometimes the more we try to define things the more disconnected we become. There are people in my online community on the other side of the world with whom I have communicated “face to face” by video conferencing. We have collaborated and worked together. We have a sense of community.

    Might social media allow us to expand our community? Although we might not run into each other at the corner store, are we not connected on a deeper level than just a shared interest.

    I’m not disagreeing, just looking for my own clarity.

    February 07, 2013
    • Hi Dan,

      It’s great that you are thinking about this and making meaning of it for yourself. The post is just for those purposes … to catalyze thinking, exploration, discussion.

      I make the distinctions because they are useful for me. They help me better calibrate my needs and expectations. They also helped me better understand what I felt was missing for me and allowed me to create it.

      I wish you joy in your search for clarity.

      February 07, 2013
  • Your blog post regarding tribe and community was interesting. It gave me the opportunity to reflect on my own journey through the years. I have found various experiences of “community” during the sojourn. The first one I experienced was in a small church that was starting up. That was my first exposure to your definition of community. Thanks for the opportunity to reflect on my journey.

    February 07, 2013
    • Hi John,
      Thanks for sharing your reflections. I am delighted you have experienced community … it is precious.

      February 07, 2013
  • Wonderful post Wendy Mirrors my own journey and if one of the reasons we are settling in one physical place The power of in person connection will never be replace by online

    February 07, 2013
    • Hi Ian! Yes, in our increasingly isolated, disconnected, hyper-interconnected world many people are longing for human contact. In my village, I am forced to interact in person; show up at the bank, the electric-gas company, etc. There is scale here. Most of the errands I need to run are within a stone’s throw of each other. On the way, I run into my “community.” We stop and talk, catch up, drop in on one another, grab a coffee, take a walk … I always forget to “budget” enough time to run errands, to include these spontaneous encounters. I love it. Scale is essential to all of this, because we are on foot rather than walled up behind the glass and metal of our cars.

      February 08, 2013
  • Thanks Wendy for the thoughtful post. I once read a research study that sited how late twenty-somethings tend to migrate back to where their families live as they begin to start their own families. This speaks volumes about how we seek out communities to support our personal goals. We don’t pick them but sometimes our families become the center of our community of personal support that can morph into tribe when connected to our classmates and work relationships.

    February 08, 2013
    • Hi Kent,
      Yes, I remember friends who made these migrations … I like your point, “This speaks volumes about how we seek out communities to support our personal goals.” There comes a point when we realize we need one another and we can’t do this alone; we don’t have to do it alone.
      Thanks for your comments, Kent.

      February 08, 2013
  • Hi Ande!
    So glad to see you here. Yes, you’ve just reversed the words (tribes and community) from my definition. Doesn’t matter–just so you have the distinction for yourself.

    Yes, to your question, “does this make any sense?” As I define my tribe–they are people I chose rather than those who happen to live in the community where I was born and raised or necessarily live in my current community.

    My tribe consists of people with whom I relate to professionally or who share interests. I may have deeply personal connections with my tribe because we know each other; recognize one another at a profound level. We each feel seen and understood in a way we may not by the people who live in our communities. Somehow we magnetize one another across time and space.

    Thanks for prompting a deeper exploration of this relevant topic.

    February 08, 2013
  • Wendy,

    I appreciate you sharing your story and the comments from others here are very insightful. I also grew up in a small town and like you, I could not wait to get out. Later in life I realized the priceless lessons about the value of community. These type of unbreakable threads woven into the fabric of serendipity provide richness within our tribes. The diverse richness in our tribes help us unfold the secrets to life. Our understanding of these secrets unlocks the real power of innovation.

    I have also enjoyed our thought sharing on Twitter and like the part of your recent comment about “Somehow we magnetize one another across time and space”.

    This is an important point, especially when collaborating together from locations around the globe. Solid emotional bonds prevent things from falling apart within difficult conditions.

    Emotional bonds transcend time and space, they induce and enhance our ability to deeply connect in meaningful ways.

    Thanks for sharing,

    Your story now has me thinking about what to do with http://localtribes.com

    February 09, 2013
    • Hi Daniel, thanks for dropping in to comment and for your beautiful words. I particularly appreciate, “These type of unbreakable threads woven into the fabric of serendipity provide richness within our tribes. The diverse richness in our tribes help us unfold the secrets to life. Our understanding of these secrets unlocks the real power of innovation.” I’ll chew on this one for awhile.

      Is the url http://localtribes.com patiently waiting to emerge into being? I look forward to learn how it evolves.

      February 09, 2013
  • Thanks Wendy, Your story and your ideas are inspiring!

    I registered the LocalTribes URL a few years ago and hope to use it to help others harness the exponential value of their tribes to maximize their potential. I’m currently spending the majority of my time creating collaborative solutions within the Enterprise and across Government Agencies.

    February 09, 2013
    • Hi Daniel,
      Appreciate your feedback. Your URL idea sounds intriguing. Please keep me posted … Meanwhile, I just spent a bunch of time on your website. Lots of great information there to stir up my innovative spirit. Very interesting, indeed. I will be a frequent visitor. What you do has direct application to the work I and my colleagues do. Need to take a hike now to let it all percolate. Thanks for providing such rich content. For others who want to take a peek. http://www.webtechman.com

      February 10, 2013
  • A question for everyone about developing community…
    If we were to create 40 homes near a business that provided jobs (based on qualifying for them). And the homes were rented by the residents – but were starting with families that did not previously know each other, would it be possible to develop “community” and if so, how might that be accomplished?

    February 14, 2013
    • Hi Bob,
      I posted your question to my Google+ network to extend your question to a larger audience. I need to give your question some thought before I reply, but I will!

      Does your question relate to a project already in progress or is it something you are mulling over?

      February 15, 2013
    • Interesting question:)

      To me, building community with a group such as you describe might be much easier than trying to create community in an already established neighborhood.

      Everyone is sharing the experience of moving into a area where they do not know anyone.

      This is what thousands of college freshmen face every year.

      This is what thousands of military recruits go through all the time.

      We have all had experience moving into a new environment, where the structure and situations are not yet understood – we just tend to do this in isolation, rather than as a group.


      Create social and functional opportunities that meet their needs immediately and put them into contact with each other.

      Ride-sharing, baby-sitters, and exercise groups are three things which come easily to mind here.


      Some people will respond to larger and socially oriented efforts, while others will be more inclined toward the small and intimate.

      Something for everyone … provide opportunities without requirements and let people choose their involvement level.


      Someone in each family works for the same organization.

      Everyone is moving to a new area.

      Not sure this is specific enough, but you certainly got me thinking with this question:)


      February 15, 2013
    • Hi Bob,
      I am going to answer your question in a way that you may not have anticipated. Bear with me. (and yes, businesses that create local jobs for the community are also important) Using the definition of “community” that I propose in my blog, here are some things to consider:

      What facilitates the building of community is scale. What I mean is this; size matters.

      To the degree the geographic area is small, that people can walk to their local shops to run errands, that there is a town center/square where the community members can “commune” with one another in a spontaneous way, that the “center” exists as and at the heart of the community, you can build a community. If the schools are local and good; if parents can walk with their kids to school and/or it is safe enough for the children to walk with one another. If there is local theatre, arts, sports … If there are green spaces for walking and enjoying nature, community gardens … This is what I have experienced that lends to the organic building of community.

      If people are always in their cars or behind their computer screens, they are much less likely to have chance encounters with the folks that live in their environs. To the degree people can walk on walking only streets and pathways, rather than busy noise-filled streets with cars/trucks/buses, etc., rushing by (not pleasant to walk along these streets) lined with trees, plants, shops (the butcher, the small grocer, the cafe, the bookstore … ) they will get to know one another, stop for a cup of coffee or a drink, sit under a tree and chat, greet one another in passing … These are some of the things that facilitate community building. Ultimately, there are annual festivals, events, that hold the community intact.

      This is what I’ve observed from direct experience in the various places I have lived in the world. I hope this is helpful.

      February 19, 2013

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