When the subject of defining community comes up, there are usually as many images and definitions as people involved in the conversation. Community can and does simply mean a group of interacting people living in a common geographical location. On the other end of the spectrum, it has a variety of definitions related to the intentionality of living together based on shared values and purpose. But it also has meaning related simply to the relationships that build in our working environment, associations and clubs, churches and other spiritual communities, etc. – and today, it also can mean the relationships we build online through websites, blogs, forums, and social networking.
For practical purposes, related to all these possibilities, a good starting point for defining community comes from the book “Creating Community Anywhere” By Carolyn Shaffer and Kristin Anundsen:
Community is a dynamic whole that emerges when a group of people:
- participate in common practices
- depend upon one another
- make decisions together
- identify themselves as part of something larger than the sum of their individual relationships
- commit themselves for the long term to their own, one another, and the groups well-being