Of the five heart's path guideposts, community remains the one with the most opportunity for me to grow and learn and better understand. With this blog post, I'm beginning a series about community with the idea of exploring what community is all about ... what community does and why community matters to your heart's true path.
community [kuh-myoo-ni-tee] noun
a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists
When I think about community, especially in the context of the five guideposts, I always find myself looking at community from a teaching-and-learning framework. So to get outside my own head and gain a fresh perspective, I turned (where else?) to the Internet. Here and here I found references to the work of sociologist Roland L. Warren, who describes five key functions of community.
Finding a Community that Fits My Heart
Warren's framework outlines what a community does—the purpose a community serves and the function it offers. The list below describes Warren's five functions with my annotations about evaluating a community for a good fit for my heart's true path.
- Production, distribution, consumption. Generally, this has to do with economic functions, but thinking of goods and services invited me to consider the goods and services a heart's true community offers. What types of goods and services are available for community members? What is the quality of the goods and services? How often are goods and services exchanged?
- Socialization. The norms and values of a particular community are taught and learned through socialization. Are community norms and values clear and consistent? Do the norms and values align with my heart?
- Social control. A community needs ways to keep its members in line with its norms and values and to enforce expectations. What kind of leadership and structures are in place within the community? Are the community's boundaries clear and reasonable?
- Social participation. A community would not function without participation by its members. What does participation look like in this community? Is the exchange of goods and services (see function 1 above) reciprocal or one-sided?
- Mutual support. This is the function that often seems to float to the top. A community is about supporting its members, enabling cooperation, and motivating and encouraging one another. What examples of mutual, reciprocal support are evident in the community? Does the community's level of cooperation fit what I need or want? Do I notice community members encouraging and motivating one another?
Looking at community through this sociology lens has broadened my view of what a heart's true community can be. What do you think? What's your experience with community? As always, I'm interested in the thoughts you have to share. We can interact in the comments here on the blog or at our community Facebook page. You can also connect with me via twitter.
Registration is now open for the upcoming
Heart’s Path Discovery Sessions!
If you’re seeking your heart’s true path, join me for an intensive in-person Heart's Path Discovery Session Saturday, October 11 in Minnetonka, MN. Heart’s Path Discovery Sessions offer a set of guideposts for discovering and living your heart's true path, a strategy for finding what activities you love and then living with intention and with a greater sense of meaning.