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Public Sample of the
Online Ministries Community Blog

Mar 27

It's Simple; Dialog and Interaction Build Community

Posted by Bill Anderton

I like Connected Communities! I like Connected Communities used in online ministries.

I like the concept. I like the technologies. I like the dialogs they produce among the members of its communities. I like how it enhances and, sometimes, even is responsible for building a sense of community among disparate members.

In my career in the commercial world, I have built several thousand Connected Communities and I've never been disappointed by their impact within their targeted constituencies.

However, don't think this is all a "Buck Rogers" application of technology.

Lots of our models and paradigms for the Connected Community (and its Special-Interest Communities) hearken back to small communities in the pre-World War II era. The way physical communities were built in this period featured houses with front porches. In the cool of the evening, people would sit on the front porches or go on walks around the community. Neighbors would greet passersby from their porches and strollers would pause to talk for a while. Another neighbor would pass by and join in. Even if you were new to the neighborhood, you had a mechanism to meet and greet your neighbors. You weren't a stranger long.

You knew a lot about the people in your community from these front porch interactions; you made friends, you exchanged information, you cleared the air over some perceived slight, you traded small talk and, along the way, you became a community.

The front porch and the sidewalk it faced were a social network!

In the suburbanization of the USA in the post-war period, instead of houses with front porches facing the street, people built housing tracks that put a focus on the backyard; most with tall wooden fences. While higher density was achieved (more people per acre), our homes became inward focused instead of outward focused. Activities in our backyards were inherently more private; family and just a few close friends.

We lost the simple social network of the porch and sidewalk. We lost a significant mechanism for meeting strangers. We lost the ability to build community from our front porches. We lost the social mechanism to meet, greet and talk among our neighbors as frequently as before. We lost these venues for the small neighborly interactions. We became more isolated. As we lost many of these interactions, our suburbs lost a big part of their sense of community.

Our version of Connected Community (and its Special-Interest Communities) tries to re-establish the front-porch-and-passerby mechanism of this bygone era. In the Connected Community, using the technologies on which it is based, it is easy to find and interact with its members even at great distance. It creates simple ways for people to find, meet, greet, work and collaborate with our neighbors near and far (for both clergy and laity in our case) and hopefully, also along the way, build a stronger sense of community or create one where it didn't previously exist.

Connected Communities provide an analog for building similar communities in parishes as part of an online ministry. Communities that are connected are simply extended dialogs on steroids among groups of people. As powerful as dialogs are among participants, the effects are compounded among whole groups of people as synergies result from group-based dialogs.

Category: (03-13) March 2013   Tag:

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