Rethinking What We Mean By Community

When we talk about community engagement and community building, what do we mean by community? Who is "the community?" We can host, convene and invite well when we have a good sense of what we mean by community.

A community is a network of people who share anything.  There are five kinds of communities: communities of purpose, place, practice, perspective, past. 

Organizations like companies, non-profits and public institutions and services are communities of purpose. People share common intentions and metrics. Neighborhoods, regions, residential and office buildings are communities of place. People share common spaces, structures, resources, requirements and issues. Professions and crafts are community of practice, like communities of teachers, construction workers,  They share common work. Political and religious networks are communities of perspective. People who share common families, nationalities and cultures are communities of past.

Many of us belong to multiple communities. When we talk about building communities, it can be any or any combination of these.