Building a Community: The Experiment

Like many other bloggers I decided to put my money where my mouth is…so to speak. I’ve said my piece on how to attract volunteers and right now I am in the middle of creating a community. This post will be about the background.

In the area I live there is a huge need for intervention.

(See I am using the words.)

There is support for people who are in GREAT need due to physical or cognitive disabilities. There is support for people who are capable of taking care of themselves but need help to get started. BUT there is not much support for people who want to live an independent lifestyle but    just    can’t    quite    make    it on their own. I have someone who is near and dear to my heart in this very situation. This means I know there is a need for intervention, preferably outside regular government support, and I am clear about what this all means to me.

I connected with a charitable organization called Innovative Communities.org (ICO) and they are strongly urging me to build my community before I start working on the Initiative I proposed to them. But I’m coming up against some hard issues.

People don’t want to intervene, even if they see the need, if there is no specific goal with a specific time limit. I guess I’m not just looking for volunteers. I’m looking for people who want to become a physical part of what I hope to create. I’m looking for people who want to become part of this community.

How do the same steps apply? I’m up against a big issue with the very first step:

1. People feel overwhelmed by the enormity of what I want to do. I also have a very vague idea of what it will look like because I need the input of the community I want to attract, in order to build the community. Kind of like: what comes first. the chicken or the egg.

2. I can open their eyes to the issue and have experienced this many times over as I explain why I want to do this but they glaze over when they feel the “overwhelmness” (my word for this) of what I am asking them to commit to and how vague it is. Maybe I’m just not clear that about what I want from them. I am asking them to join me first and lets decide together how we want this to look.

3. What is the culture of this area? Well I believe they are very eco-conscious, community driven and want to create a safe environment for everyone. I could be wrong but I can find out if there is a cultural block involved. This might be something I want to do.

I’ve tried to explain to the team leaders what I am up against. No wants to commit to a vague concept with no specific time lines. But on the other hand I understand why ICO feels it is so important to build the community first. They found that IF they built a community around an Initiative, after the Proposal was made, that once the goal was achieved the community disbanded. They had hoped the community would stay intact but the goal is reached and the volunteers move on to other projects.

There are two things to consider.

1. Maybe I need to re-think about the volunteer I am looking for. Am I looking for a volunteer? Not really. I’m looking for someone who wants to be a member of something. But no matter what it is I still believe I’m looking for people motivated by Altruism.

2. I also believe that I need a long term goal, a vision and a step by step outline of where I hope this will lead to. If I have a series of ever-evolving goals I can keep the members engaged and committed to staying with the community. Instead of having a business plan or a specific project what I need to create is an organic, living breathing entity that will support and protect people who WANT to but for any number of reasons is UNABLE to live a life that feels INDEPENDENT.

3. Or the third possibility is: I’m right. What if, what I’m trying to create is organic and ever-evolving? What if the very nature of my idea implies the need for continual support, input and change with no “end goal” in mind? If the idea, is to create self-sustaining communities, will the idea of sustainability mean people will stay involved in what we create? If that is the case, then I can start creating the community and the attraction will be the “sustainability” aspect of the Initiative. Build it and they will come, so to speak.

What have I missed in the logic of this?

What suggestions might you have?

How can I approach people with this idea?

How important, do you feel, it is to create a community first, no matter what the vision is?

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