The Psychology of Community by Darren Stanton
When Ian asked me to write a short article about the psychology of community, I replied that a short article would only scratch the surface of the subject. Indeed, the topic covers almost every aspect of daily life. For example, Facebook is a community, and Instagram and Twitter are communal.
I feel what Ian was asking for was a way of helping people to see the advantages of being part of the LizianEvents organised Well-Being Shows. And I must write the article without bias. I write for national newspapers and magazines. Therefore the piece cannot be one of promotion for a friend. From my experience attending well-being events, I have no doubt there is evidence of a special connection between the stallholders. Personal experience has confirmed the willingness of stallholders to help with setting up my stand and supplying occasional needs such as forgotten cables. I watched with interest as Campbell Wallace went to his car to find an extension lead for a fellow exhibitor. I could see from the body language he enjoyed helping.
What is Community?
We should be clear about the word community. It is far from a close friendship. However, close friendships made in a community will have a close bond. Allow me to explain. When people become part of a community, they usually have a part to play within the group. In a large community, there is everything from builders to storekeepers. Agreed, the sizeable collaborative community with houses and infrastructure is relatively rare, but they do exist. The YMCA’s Newark and Sherwood community project is an example.
We can find community halls and associations countrywide. Take, for example, the many community garden projects demonstrating outstanding success. In these communities, we discover pretty large groups who pool resources to buy large machines used to benefit all members. While researching the article, it was no surprise to realise that people new to gardening and growing vegetables became ‘green-fingers’ quickly! The results are swift and permanent whenever we have experienced people working alongside those willing to learn.
A community is a group of like-minded people who come together for a common purpose. The best communities encapsulate a rich blend of people with different skills and a significant cause. It is not necessary for the people within the group to be friends. The group must have a common purpose. Friendships made within a community project can form a strong bond. When this happens, the community becomes more effective than a group of people who meet casually.
Advantages of Community
Without a doubt, the ‘common purpose’ of the community strengthens the chances of success. The interaction between the various abilities supports the community when there is a mix of different skills and skill levels. We can see the achievements of cooperatives where individuals with other skill sets work together to produce specific items. For example, metalworking and home repair cooperatives.
A community does not produce a single type of product. It is a group of people who work uniformly to provide a service for themselves. They may be retailers, service providers, teachers, or specialist services. By grouping, they draw attention to prospective customers and clients. They will have a common trading place. Knowing that customers will visit one community member and may see most other members within the same venue or establishment is a priority advantage.
The community benefits from sharing common ground (venue – website – event – building), where (members, customers or visitors) can come and interact with the community.
The community members must understand the advantage of the unified group. And choose to promote the community to the benefit of the whole group. And this has a phenomenal psychological benefit to all concerned.
I’ll conclude this short article by offering readers an idea worthy of thought. The mind does not wholly work on conscious levels. We see our part within an environment which is, in reality, limited on both conscious and sub-conscious levels; we can never see the whole picture! The unconscious digests all experiences which evolve into perceived conscious reality. When a group of people work within a mindset of fact, truth and accurate appraisal, their unconscious thoughts become beneficial.
It is easy for conscious thoughts to overwhelm the reality the unconscious assimilates. And this is why many see the well-being shows as a worthwhile project. And others resent the project! There is more to well-being shows than profit and loss. Suppose you have a mind to see beyond the actual event; you may discover a fundamental human need! The well-being shows I have attended over the last six years align with moral and right thinking. And it seems that the people who stand at the well-being shows are aligned with a high degree of ethical ethos.
The psychological advantage of working on any collaborative project goes beyond profit. When a group of people immerse themselves in a worthwhile project, they align themselves with the ultimate human need…
It is fulfilment.