Reflections of a lifetime looking for ‘my community’. Now that I have found it, how will I change it?
4 Key Takeaways:
- The advent of the information age has made us less satisfied with our given communities, but also granted us the ability to change them more easily.
- With the increase in choice, comes a decrease in certainty.
- In the West, it seems the power has shifted from the community to the individual and ‘Where is my community?’ is a question with complex answers.
- I have found my community through both serendipity and conscious research and effort – how will my presence change it?
About Anne Wilson:
Positive Transformation is what both inspires and drives me. My many years in multi-national companies (Banking & Healthcare) have revolved around improvements for both internal staff and customer experience.
I’m looking forward to connecting with the Congregation community to see what positive transformations we might be able to create!
Contacting Anne Wilson
You can connect with Anne by email.
By Anne Wilson
*Conscious Communities – a Personal Story*
Communities are stories that we tell ourselves – which means that we have the power to change them.
Sometimes we fall into communities relatively easily and are comfortable staying there. However, the advent of the information age has made many less satisfied with their given communities and also granted us the ability to change them more easily. We can emigrate and take on new or multiple nationalities. We can work in multiple industries and locations in one lifetime. We can learn about new hobbies, join different clubs, choose our friends and even our family (be it through divorce, adoption or advanced medical techniques). Unimaginable in most societies previously, but you can now even decide which gender community you wish to belong to.
With this increase in choice, comes a decrease in certainty – in the stability that we can expect for ourselves and those around us. Even if we choose the community we were born and reared in, we cannot expect it to remain the same as it will be changed by the individual decisions of others either within it or joining it from the outside. It seems the power has shifted from the community to the individual, at least in the West. The Middle East, Africa and Asia still have relatively strong community norms and I do not see power shifting to the individual in places like China any time soon.
Three of my grandparents and two of my great grandparents emigrated to a new continent, Africa. I observed one side of my family integrate, and the other remain insular – primarily socialising with families who came from the same Celtic villages. We, as children, did not view ourselves as immigrants, and yet we were curious about our family origins. All of us made the journey back and, while the experience gave us insights into the ‘quirks’ of our grandparents, none of us felt the proverbial emotional feelings of ‘homecoming’. In fact, there were one or two unexpected instances where attention was drawn to our ‘foreignness’ due to our accents and interactions. Add to the mix a significant period of our working lives in additional countries and the question of ‘where is my community?’ becomes more complex.
Working for a large multi-national company far from ‘home’, my like-minded colleagues formed my community. Considering the risks of such a temporary, disparate and diverse community, I made a conscious decision to find a new and more stable community located within a smaller geographic area. With parents and brothers in three different countries, this posed a challenge. It was up to me to decide which family members to choose as neighbours and which country to give my allegiance to. In such circumstances, it’s amazing what information you seek out in order to make the choice. In the end, I found it prompted an examination of my values and what I understood the values and futures of the different countries to be. The administrative details (tax, insurance, housing, cars, etc) were secondary but nevertheless impactful. Then came learning the nuances of the culture and making further choices as to which sub cultures I wished to embrace and which I preferred to avoid. On a personal level, I have found my community through both serendipity and conscious research and effort.
Now that my community has been selected on an individual level, I find myself turning to the question of the power of many. How do I contribute to the elevation of my chosen community to achieve things I would not be able to achieve alone? I have realised that while it is good to continually deepen my understanding of the planet, my impact will only be at a community level, within the sphere of influence I achieve (either actively or passively). It feels almost like the process of orientating oneself in a big corporation. What are the formal structures? Where are the informal points of power and information flows? What is the community’s general culture and does it have any type of long-term strategy for where it is headed? I say ‘almost’ because location-based community (i.e one’s town / city) is a lot ‘messier’ than even the messiest of corporate cultures I have experienced. Presumably because there is a requirement in a corporation for you to be clear on where you fit in, the value you bring to the overall strategy and there is less choice over who you must work with productively. For this reason, my first active foray into ‘community’ has offered surprises – sometimes delightful, sometimes disappointing and frequently amusing. And there are some things that I really need to change!