Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels.
As somebody who has been involved in all kinds of communities all her life, I’ve seen a lot of what has worked and a lot that didn’t when it comes to building stronger communities.
And when we judge according to our experiences, it seems like there is no simple answer, to the question of how we can start building stronger communities or uniting lots of individuals to work towards a common goal.
But when we look from a higher perspective, there is one simple answer, that only needs two components to work:
Any community or project, family or relationship will work smoothly if each part, each individual, has done their inner work and is taking full responsibility for their own life.
I’ve opened the I AM CREATOR School exactly for this reason.
To allow anyone to learn everything it takes to become a responsible human, who can safely interact with others, while really and fully unfolding their true self and through that finding and living joy and love and everything they are looking for and need to thrive.
With a few easy transitions, this really could be everyone’s reality.
All you have to do is join the I AM CREATOR School, and do the exercises, meet other like-minded people, and then to make it happen and experience your life and yourself in a whole new, free and fulfilling way.
And until this is everyone’s reality, until everybody is taking full responsibility for their lives, we start by taking full responsibility for our own lives and then begin to ask ourselves what it is that we are looking for in terms of community.
What kind of community are you looking for?When I think of community, I think of two different things. One is the neighbourhood community, where people of all ages come together, support each other and help each other out, simply because they feel a connection because they share the same space and environment. I can feel and watch this kind of community for the first time ever since I moved to a village two years ago. It’s very nice to see. The other kind of community is a group of people who meet and come together because they share a certain interest or want to fight for a certain cause together.
That is the kind of community I experienced a lot more when I lived in different cities.
My first real community experience was as a teenager in a very liberal church community where I started leading children’s groups when I was 14. We played, crafted, cooked, baked together – but more than any activity, we spent time together, listened to each other and practised kindly sharing space together.
A lot of the children attending these groups came because it was free and they were raised by single moms or came from low-income families, mixed with a few kids from better of families who were Christian and wanted their children to grow up in a Christian community.
But I loved how nobody cared where anyone came from, and everyone was welcomed and accepted.
I suppose I was, what people call, a born leader. I had no trouble at all being respected by everyone around me, the smaller kids, even the other teenagers and the parents, and was often also called to babysit with the troubling kids.
I did love them all and there were never any problems because I didn’t ever try to make them anybody else, but saw them for who they were. So many fond memories of that time. So much joy, laughter, growth and creativity.
Photo by Radomir Jordanovic on Pexels.
From there, I moved to being a class representative, helping settle conflicts between students and teachers when I was a high school student, to working between two mostly segregated ethnic communities in Ukraine when I was 20, where I also easily fell into the role of a communicator between opposing parties, finding acceptance from both sides as an outsider.
When I began to study at University, I started working at a record shop, DJing, hosted my own weekly radio show and through that became part of a different kind of community – organizing concerts and parties and creating cultural events for the whole city.
In Göttingen and Leipzig we organized the first queer parties, I was one of the first female DJs, in Göttingen at least, but there weren’t very many in Leipzig either.
And whenever I came back to visit, it was nice to see that the work I had done actually left traces and people recognized me and thanked me for or at least acknowledged the changes we set in motion.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. (Margret Mead)
From there, I moved to Berlin to organize community events in the biggest city available to me at the time, and also the one with the most flourishing and vibrant queer scene around. Because we always want to grow, right?
And it was exhilarating at first, because with so many people, there was also a lot going on and a lot of possibility and so many interesting projects to get involved in.
I dove deep into the queer scene, joining the organizing team of the Lady fest (a self-organized feminist festival taking place all around the world), helping to organize lesbian sex parties, DJing at different events and then eventually setting up my own events, film nights, exhibitions and much more.
But what I noticed in Berlin more than anywhere else, or maybe in the queer scene more than in other communities, was the division.
Very contrary to my first community experiences as a teenager at church, where everyone was welcome, now it was very much the opposite and people had to prove themselves to be accepted.
A lot of people came together to create something meaningful and good, a place that is open and accepting for those who have often experienced discrimination all their lives, but instead of practising radical inclusion it was sadly very much based on exclusion.
Of course, I tried to counteract that with my own events, something that people did notice, but at the time I doubted that it was enough.
What I saw all around me made me sad. In an attempt to create safety, witch-hunts began, and those were called out and banned who slipped up, did not use the right words or didn’t behave a certain way.
I’m not saying that things that happened, like sexist or racist or non-consensual behaviour are good, or shouldn’t be pointed out so that they can change, but the way it was done also created so much fear, that I don’t think anyone felt very free or joyful most of the time.
I sincerely hope that things have changed since then.
During that time, I felt confused because I saw so many contradictions and being in the middle of these messy community structures, where people felt the right to judge and punish others, often while not dealing with their own highly problematic behaviour, it seemed very difficult to know what was right or wrong.
I recently received a message from a friend from that time saying:
“Truly, you were my teacher, though. You definitely instilled the mission of protecting human rights within me… and I see that the only way I can be a better protector is by cultivating my inner flower and not being afraid. Instead of being angry in my head because of all the fear, I want to be alive with love.
Even on the U-Bahn [German tube/subway] you had patience and took time to understand and to articulate opposing sides and remind people of other experiences in this complicated world. There is so much flat and polarized thinking that I fall prey to it myself. I just remember so many profound conversations with you, and I really needed that at that time, so thank you, you had wisdom then, and you have wisdom now.”
So, even if I don’t think I did enough at the time, it feels nice to know that I did always stand up for my beliefs and that that did leave an impression on other people.
Eventually, I just left because I did not find any joy or inspiration there any more, but I’m also very grateful for all of these experiences because they gave me a good understanding of what doesn’t work and what stops communities from thriving, flourishing, growing or actually creating change.
What I experienced then, from the way I can see it now, was that a lot of people came together who were really mad at the world, from which they felt excluded.
They were so happy to finally be around like-minded people, that they now also wanted to feel powerful themselves and unfortunately, they felt that this meant, excluding those who had previously excluded them.
A powerful input that came to me at the time was from J. Halberstam, who argued in favour of forming temporary alliances. Because we will not get people to agree on all topics all the time.
And this leads to the second thing we need, especially when we try building stronger communities with people who are not fully conscious of their impact and aware of their actions, powers and responsibilities.
If we want to act in powerful and meaningful ways, and start building stronger communities, we can identify a topic, like equal marriage rights, environmental topics, inclusion and so on and unite to fight for that, even if we might have different ideas about other topics in our lives.
And this still rings true to me today.
I wouldn’t use the term fight any more, when it comes to creating change, but to align and focus on a certain cause or change we want to create, while accepting others in their differences and even appreciating the differences.
The intention to create meaningful change, to come together with open hearts, and the readiness to listen, learn and grow, is, what I think, should be the base for any form of community, and what can help us in building stronger communities.
Because a small group of people can create meaningful change and, with that, eventually change the world.
What do we need to build stronger communities?
So to summarize this a bit, the first thing we need if we want to start building stronger communities is the individual work of becoming trustworthy, consistent, kind and conscious individuals who can safely and effectively contribute to any community.
This equals becoming your best self, living your full potential, or simply truly, happily and authentically being yourself.
And to become that is the main reason the I AM CREATOR School came into existence.
The other part, which is essential to start building stronger communities, is to have a clear vision of what we want to achieve together.
In a neighbourhood community, this could simply be the strong vision of a neighbourhood in which people help each other out, where all take care of the maintenance of the space or area, and organize events and opportunities to come together and meet.
In cities with more diversity or when it comes to global or regional causes, we also need to create a strong vision of what it is that we want, rather than whom or what we are against.
Katherine Hayhoe points this out very well in her book on Climate Change.
She noticed that even in the most conservative spaces, where people were convinced they needed fossil fuels and that climate activists just wanted to steal from them – she could get people to take more climate friendly action, by focusing on the positive image of protecting our nature and future generations, pointing out how renewable energy can actually improve people’s life quality and focusing on what we have in common rather than what makes us different and that is our wish to live happily and freely.
Because no matter who we ask, everybody just wants to live a happy life and be themselves. And to act from this common basis and to work towards this goal, will always have the power to unite more people and to allow us not only to strengthen our communities but also to create the changes, we need in the world.
Because community plays such an important role in our lives, as the bsis we need to create meaningful change, we will spend the month of August to focus on how we can start building stronger communities in the I AM CREATOR School.
First we will look at how we can become the people who can thrive in any community and environment, how we can learn to handle criticism and take it as fuel to grow, how we can be the people who tap into their creativity and collective consciousness easily to make change happen effectively and joyfully and then to see in which ways we feel most inclined to engage.
As always, this will be supported with teachings, questions, exercises, inspiration and other people’s experiences to guide you through this process of bringing clarity, confidence and love into this essential aspect of your life.
Let’s create the world we want to live in, together.
If you’d like to become a driving part in creating change and help to start building stronger communities, while also living more confidently, joyfully, lovingly and successfully – all you have to do is join and start living your best, most joyful, most loving and most effective and successful life, yet.