Pragmatic Optimism #2: A different take on what is considered a community

April 28, 2020

Pragmatic Optimism #2: A different take on what is considered a community


Hey everyone, hope you're well, as well as can be as always.

So this is my next video on the topic of pragmatic optimism, in which I look at something interesting that's happening in the world of the pandemic and then think about what are some meaningful takeaways that we can apply as individuals, as communities, or even as business.

So last week I reflected on this idea that when there is a very clear message that we can all relate to and we all understand, then we can really come together as a community and even transcend some of our personal beliefs and personal ideologies.

In today's video I want to go a little bit deeper into the definition of community. In particular I'm inspired by one Hans Chang, who I had the great pleasure of connecting with prior to the lockdown. For those of you who don't know him, he is the Founder of Fab9, a makerspace out in Footscray and they have this really amazing community of people who have come together, and during this pandemic have looked at different ways of producing much needed medical equipment or protective equipment for those on the front line.

During our catch up Hans shared a perspective on community with me that has stuck with me ever since. Which is this: A genuine community is one which when people come together, they connect and engage with each other by face and name only with an understanding of roles and responsibilities in what they do a distant second if at all.

And that definition really struck a cord with me because it reminded me of my younger days where I used to be heavily involved in a martial arts club for over a decade. And the community there was amazing. I remember that I used to actually go to this club even on days that I couldn't train, just because I wanted to hang around with the community. And for the most part I really didn't know what anybody else did outside of the club. When we were helping each other, it was just because hey, it's Andy, it's Bec, of course we would help each other, there was just no further question around it.

And Hans describes the community at Fab9 in this way as well. You can have CEOs next to students all working together on this fabrication or 3D printing technology to try and solve some big problems just because they're part of this community.

And the other reason why I'm so enamored with this definition of community is because it helps me understand why I've personally struggled a bit to find a new community, especially business ones in recent years.

As someone who's been involved in quite a few different coworking spaces, shared offices, professional development groups and business networking groups, the phrase 'community' is one that's often used. It's always a case of join our community, we have a very unique active community here that does this. But if I can be kind of honest, this was something that I had never really connected to, it just didn't quite match what my understanding of community was at an intuitive level and for the longest time I just really didn't have the words to explain why.

Now I wanna make it absolutely clear, I'm not throwing any of these groups under the bus, I'm absolutely sure that there are groups of people within those communities that are connected and so I have to take responsibility for the fact that I perhaps didn't make enough of an effort to get to know people in those communities and thus in turn they didn't also really understand me besides Scott Ko, Founder of ColourSpace, I do this, and I do this.

And so tying this whole thing together and putting on my pragmatic optimism hat, one of the interesting upsides of the pandemic is just how we are now starting to connect with each other as people. For example, at a one on one level, when I'm now having a video conference with someone, a simple how are you is really quite genuine. I want to understand how you're doing during this pandemic. Are you okay, how are you feeling, how are you coping? I want to get to know individuals a little bit more.

At a business level, at a team level, it's really interesting to see how many teams have started to find novel and creative ways to bring a bit of their personal lives into the big Zoom video conferences. I hear different ideas from people who might share a hobby of theirs, or they might share a story about the art that's on the wall, or share a little bit more about their personal lives.

And so whilst yes, part of this is just people trying to find creative ways to keep a Zoom call interesting, the upside is that teams are getting to know each other more as people.

And thus the big takeaway for me has simply been this, that this is a time like no other in which there's a shared experience for me to get to know you, to know other people in my network and my community as individuals.

So thank you Hans for sharing this perspective with me, it's really had a profound impact on me. Again, for anyone who's not checked out Fab9, please go to have a look, it's an amazing community that he has built.

That's it for now, as always please stay safe, stay upbeat and if you do have other perspectives on community that you'd like to share, things that you're doing to bring your teams and your networks and your people closer together, I'd love to hear them in the comments below. Otherwise see you next week.

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