164: Build an In-Person Community

164: Build an In-Person Community

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We often think about community when it comes to helping others in disaster, like hurricanes or floods. Or when someone has a farm emergency and they need people to swoop in and finish their harvest. Or when someone has a medical emergency and a meal train is formed to take care of the family while someone is recovering.

And that’s all fine and well, right? But isn’t it easier to do those things when you already have the community in place?

Do you have that community in place?

Let me brag on my friend Nicole Sauce of Living Free in Tennessee.

The Living Free in Tennessee community is pretty awesome, and I really enjoy being part of that online community. But I don’t live in Tennessee. I’m not anywhere near Tennessee. And I see how the LFTN community has this great come together and help our people locally vision and I watch the amazing things they do for each other… and y’all, I’ll admit it—I’m jealous of what they’ve built.

(Nicole did a great Thought of the Walk video on how exactly they went about forming their Tennessee GSD crew. You can check that out over on Odysee or YouTube.)

As I watch the LFTN community, and I keep thinking that I can talk all I want and write articles and do podcasts and make YouTube videos and that’s great—but boots on the ground and hands doing work, where is that part of my local(ish) farmish community?

Who is your community?

Online communities are great, but today I’m wondering about who your in-person community is. Who belongs to your in-person network? Do you have one?

I’d like to build a stronger network locally. I’d like to build a group of people who get together to help each other when it’s needed but also a group of people who hang out around the campfire or get together for meals. Generally speaking, we’ve stopped doing that as much as a people. Or we do it so rarely that it’s an absolute treat when we get to make it happen.

Can we bring community back? A good, ol’ fashioned in person community.

I can build a community. So can you.

The purpose of this post is two-fold. If you are reading this and you are in Minnesota-ish, and building a local(ish) community sounds like something you’re up for, I want to hear from you. Email me ([email protected]) with Community in the subject line, give me an idea of what area you live in and any ideas you have about building a local community. Or tell me why you think it’s important. Or tell me what you’d bring to the campfire. Whatever.

But the other reason I’m writing this article today is to point out that YOU can build YOUR community.

Some people do TSP (The Survival Podcast) groups. Some people do GSD (Get Stuff/Shit Done) groups. Some people do Freedom Cells. Some people just try to get people together and do a thing without making it a thing. Figure out what works for you. I have a friend who does a First Friday coffee and she just opens her house to anyone that sees her FB post. She serves coffee and yummy baked things and people just come over and hang out and talk.

Join something. Start something. Do something.

Here are a few points to consider in building a community.

A community needs more than just bodies:

To build a community you need people, not just bodies. A good community is made of helpers and doers and people who are willing to be together and work together. A good community keeps out the drama as much as possible. And people who don’t belong in the community will eventually fade out. Takers and drama queens will move along when they’re not being fed with attention. Build your community with strong people who care for each other and want good things for each other.

Being part of a community isn’t always convenient:

I currently have four paper bags of clothes I’ve cleaned out of my closet. It would be really easy to just drop them at the Goodwill, but I think I can be of more help to someone if I say hey, who wants to go through the bags? Take whatever you need. But that requires letting people know I have those things, answering questions about what’s in the bags, meeting up with them so they can grab the bags (or sticking them somewhere in my shed to say “stop by and grab them if you want.”)

Being part of a community is work. It takes time and sometimes it’s less convenient than the other option.

Don’t let issues get in the way of building your community:

I live in a house of wacky schedules and frequently have people sleeping during the day, or trying to take power naps before they head back for another shift. So while I’d love to open my home to people and have a coffee and banana cake get together at my dining room table, it’s sometimes a little complicated.

But there are ways to work around that. What issues trip you up when it comes to building an in-person community? Be creative. Ask others for insight and solutions, which they can sometimes see because they’re on the outside looking in.

Don’t ignore the communities you’re already a part of:

None of us are an island, and most of us are already part of various communities (because of things we are involved, where we live, etc.) Sometimes we get so caught up in starting a new thing that we forget we might already be part of a community that maybe just needs to be a little stronger or more connected.

Don’t reinvent the wheel here. Just add some spokes to it if that’s what’s needed.

Let’s bring community back:

If you’re local(ish) to Minnesota(ish) and want to talk about getting something going, drop me an email at [email protected]. Let’s talk about how to build something awesome, in person.

If you’re not local(ish) to Minnesota(ish), start your own thang! I’d be happy to promote your get together/group on the podcast if you’re looking for people to join up with to hang out/get things done.

Let’s bring community back, y’all.

— Amy Dingmann, 9-7-21

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Books by me, Amy Dingmann: My books

group of people digging in a community garden

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