What is a community?


3 min read

Being part of a community means many different things depending on who is listening and who is talking. It almost has the same connotations as “isolation”- what is one person’s idea of  heaven is hell for someone else. At the core of your point of view is “choice”. Choosing to live in isolation or being forced to live in isolation are quite different. The second consideration is isolation from what?

I think the same for a dog, choosing to be alone, is not the same thing as being excluded. The aspect of choosing implies that you could end it if you wished to do so.

Joining in comes in many different forms, from just adding your count to the number that support the purpose of a community or getting involved and starting a new committee to put an event on the road. We all get moved by different purposes.

We see this in dog sports, the minimally involved, then the maximum involvement, which in dog sports often centres around “control of …” Oops. The minimally involved are happy to let other people to the heavy lifting, usually have plenty to say about how that lifting is done but their hands are never free to help out.  

I ventured in Gordon Setters to do my pre-purchase research and I was impressed by a  committee member who was urging folk to enter an event that was held on the other side of the country. Most were excusing themselves from supporting the event because they had no intention of going. The entry fee was £4, plus a stamp. The counter point was that without any support the event would no longer have classes for Gordons. Once these classes are gone, they rarely get resurrected. Support comes in many forms – and is not always about you, or your agenda, or to your personal benefit. Entering that show (I was pressed hard, but without a registered dog it wasn’t possible), was about giving future possibilities in an area with low numbers. It was about recognising that at some time in the past the organisation considered the effort worthwhile to invite a judge, support the breed and hold the classes.

Minimum support, posting an entry, will often take a few minutes …. a bit more than just hitting a “like” button, but it may mean a lot more to the recipients, for the future and the past effort.

Making a Community work

This is about seeing the community as a living beast in itself. With support, it keeps going, someone gave birth to it, and without support it dies. We have seen this over the last 20 years of internet groups, the original “list serve”, then yahoo groups, then FB.

In current situations an online community could be at the core of connection to other people. You can belong very easily, but to feel you belong takes more effort. It requires you to put something of yourself, perhaps a passion, an event you enjoyed, or an observation into the community for their response. Some may like it, some may want to engage with you, but they will learn more about you. Ignoring you is just bad manners. Letting people learn more about us is how we become involved.

This is much easier to do when we share our passion for dogs – the type of dogs we enjoy, the activities, a photograph that shows their character, what we share with others about dogs brings us into that feeling of belonging.

We are all in semi-isolation to some degree, but a bit of connection goes a long way.

Shared information is learning

Learning is of great value to me, it is an continual reward system. I am fairly selective in what I learn, and will soak up documentaries of good value on a regular basis. I learned yesterday that a new born fawn will “smell of nothing”, (I want more information on the science of that) but the evidence could be seen on screen as a predator walked past a new born curled in the grass – it should have picked up something it was so close, and I particularly re-wound to look at the air movement! I learned nature is so neat.

Discussions are wonderful forms of learning. Especially when they open up new facts, or a view from a new angle that changes my  learning and is likely to have an impact on what I do in the future. “Having a discussion” is a skill, we have developed our online discussions, but still we get the my-view-is-the-only-view lack of skill – which just lets everyone listening that you are not prepared to learn. Even if your view is different from mine that is interesting in itself, and we then wonder how you arrived at that point, how your experience has led to a unique view.  Many of the rich discussions points are a spicy blend of our experiences, beliefs and understanding. Having your beliefs questioned is how we learn and move forward.

This is our age

Learning to connect without direct physical contact is our lifestyle, forced upon many of us, and it is developing new ways of communicating.

Let’s learn the skills, use the technology and make the tools to keep us going as a community. I will always wonder what would have happened to the training communities I am deeply involved with if the internet had not arrived?

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