In order to feel truly anchored, I relate to roots. Just like trees whose roots are planted in the ground, establishing a foundation to facilitate its growth. In a community, a group of people coming together around a specific purpose, goal, issue, or experience, and forming mutual dialogue, serves as fertilizer. It provides a sense of security for its roots, anchoring it more deeply in the ground, and widening its foundation. In a system of this kind, how can we establish health roots?
- Seeds – Describing the realm and boundaries of activities, which topics will be addressed, and what are the goals toward which we are working? What type of discourse will be included? If it’s in writing, will it be on a digital platform? If it’s a discussion, will it be in face to face discussions? Perhaps both? How often? Each of these questions are essential to creating a web of roots. Setting expectations facilitates a sense of interactions between equals in which it’s clear what is acceptable, and which is inacceptable.
- Seedling – The tree then absorbs all its nourishment from the ground, from the sun, the air, and water, establishing its core that holds together a diversity of branches of different colors, characteristics, and textures. Just like the members involved in communal discourse in which no one individual is like another. This is the beauty, that each person brings their contribution: their background, their vocabulary, and their unique perspective on the world. In a prosperous community, one can see an organic process of leaders, pioneers giving of themselves, and collaborating for collective success. These same individuals are gleaning value from the content, from watching or reading it, and representatives joining leaders to set the course for continued communal process.
- Stem – As the branches come together, the shared basis cultivates an emotional experience of belonging. The feeling that each individual has value, that people truly feel seen, that they and their stories are accepted, and that their contributions are recognized, creates deep meaning and a constant reminder of “why we’re here.”
- The supportive space between the stem and the branch – A kind word or a complement, providing verbal or other support, does wonders. These can create an authentic connection that can be deepened, recognizing that there are moments at which I need support from others, to lean on someone and take a moment to remember my roots. Through this collaboration, the community can grow and flourish, can bare fruit through discourse, by launching initiatives, through meaningful experiences of happiness, love, creation, concern for others, a desire to share.
- Branch – Creating this web and launching initiatives requires time to ripen. The amount of time varies between different communities, depending on its character, and which need it seeks to answer: for example, is it an ongoing or one-time need? Is the time line clear? As we know, any fruit picked too early will be unripe, and less delicious. The juiciness, the loving spark in someone’s eye who is participating in a group of people that they belong to, that will bring them joy and value, is magical. It’s a spark of ripeness, and there is no secret recipe for bringing it about, other than the right balance between liberation and support, or, for trees, watering and time to absorb the water.
- Leaves and flowers – At this stage, we can see the results: a clear initiative, discussion, dynamic between members, interesting connections. There is a growing and stable web of members rallying alongside the leader: new participants, as well as the regulars who serve as thought leaders that support one another, give advice in difficult times, and complement one another when successful.
This is the web. In my opinion, authentic mutuality does not include coercion or “must,” but rather a foundation into which everyone can contribute something, and decide how they want to participate. Accepting everyone as they are accompanies growth, brings forth topics for discussion, cultivates community members who are creating connections and personal interactions, and develops sub-collaborations. This diversity of connections taking place at the same time, can look like the product—a green leaf, and sometimes these connections lie underneath the tree, while it exists, is invisible to the eye. The level of collaboration while it bares fruit defines it. This diversity which allows the tree branches to grow flowers and bare fruit is what gives us flavor, because the community is ripe. The community is seen not only as a necessary space, but rather a give and take rooted in choice and desire. A mature tree grows to the tree tops, to the point at which the community reaches out to the world around it. These leaders at the top who act as ambassadors representing the community’s perspective to those surrounding it. Perhaps there will be further collaborations with other communities, external knowledge sharing, moving forward new projects, and more.
My perspective is that communities sustain us. Communities are systems in harmony with nature, that inspire and take responsibility to help people grow when we come together, give and take, for ourselves as well as for our environment and our society. The wisdom and impressive technological accomplishments are our fruit, together, let’s ensure that our trees have water, air, sun, and wind, just as we need support, nourishment, collaboration, and worth. This way, this web will continue to flourish.
In the picture: a stake supports the system.
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