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We live in a very lonely time in a very lonely world. Feelings of sadness and isolation are common in a culture that promotes mindless consumption and profit over human connection. Finding success in a capitalistic world does not bring us deep happiness, even as we achieve financial prosperity as we've been conditioned to strive for our entire lives.
Communities are essential to human flourishing, and they come in many forms. They can be based around culture, values, passions and proximity. While all are important in their own way, in this how-to guide I will mostly focus on communities based around common interests and passions. I have personally found great happiness in this form of community, as it's allowed me to connect deeply with people across different backgrounds and walks of life. I will also try to focus on in-person communities as opposed to virtual ones.
Determine what you want your community to be about. Are you passionate about tea? Preserving historical architecture? Zines about punk music? What are your values? Establish this early on and stick to it to avoid awkwardness or rifts.
Find people - this is the trickiest part! A good start is one friend. You can also do outreach on social media, put up flyers in person (less effective) or by hosting events (more effective). See if there is already an estalbished community in your area for your interest. Would you like to join them, or do something differently?
Find a place to meet in person. Ideally a shared space that isn't a bar or someone's residence. Make it your home. Meet there regularly (this is KEY), on the same day every week if you can. Incorporate food and drink into this ritual. Food has a wonderful way of bringing people together.
Establish a channel for comunication. These days, the best way to do this is through e-mail lists, instagram, slack groups, and discord channels - anywhere that people can easily reach one another.
Ask people to contribute. If you know someone that makes zines, ask them to host a workshop. If you know someone who's an excellent cook, ask them to take the lead on your fundraiser dinner. Compensate fairly for their time, or be clear ahead of time if you'd need them to volunteer. People will be more likely to volunteer their time for an altrusitic endeavor, so keep this in mind. Try to make your endeavors altrusitic to promote goodwill and nurture your community at large.
Find your global community. Is there a club in Japan that makes zines just like yours? Maybe you can be pen pals. Finding a global community is one of the most fun and exciting aspects of being a part of a community.
Rinse and repeat! Growing a community takes years of love and patience, but the emotional rewards of contributing to a community will be one of the most gratifying things you can do in your life.
- Ghost Crab
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