What is Community?

For me, community has always meant people working co-operatively together for the longer term, sharing values, ideas, resources and making something that is more than the sum of its parts. ‘Community’ as a term gets banded about to mean ‘group of people with something in common’ when there’s not much community involved in it at all. For me, if involvement depends on ability to pay, it’s not a community. If you don’t look after each other, it’s not a community. I’ve been in a lot of spaces that have called themselves communities, or tribes. I’ve never managed to stay.

I tend to assume the problem is me. I can’t turn a blind eye to problems. Increasingly, I can’t remain silent about who isn’t in the room, who is excluded by the very way in which things are run. I can’t deal with people who want power over me specifically, or who are there to build a personal power-base. I’m very happy to deal with people who want the power to get things done, and very wary of people who just want power. If I care about spaces and am wholehearted about them and giving as much as I can, I can’t also be complacent about the things I find difficult. I don’t have the apathy that smoothes over problems, or the disinterest that allows a person to be calm, and professional detachment is beyond me.

My experience has been that I am never patient enough. I don’t give enough, I’m not sympathetic enough, or co-operative enough, or hard working enough, when dealing with people. I’ve never been in a space where I’ve been able to do enough to go from the peripheries to the middle. If there’s a designated ‘team druid’ or similar, I won’t be in it. The only exceptions have been spaces I’ve run myself.

I’ve never been able to work out what the differences are. Why some people are loved, cherished and valued apparently with little reference to what they do, and no matter what I do, I don’t get treated that way. I left one community a little after a chap was obliged to step down due to bankruptcy. He went with love and praise and was treated with honour and respect. I left shortly afterwards, unacknowledged, pushed out over other people’s anxieties that issues in my personal life could get in the way of the work. I’d not done anything wrong.  I had thrown everything I could at that space, I had pushed into burnout repeatedly, gone way outside my comfort zone, and it still wasn’t enough to feel like there was a place for me – and in the end, there was no place for me and I left feeling humiliated. It’s one example amongst many.

I left because I’d been accused of bullying, and the person accusing me tried to get me fired from my day job. I left because I just wanted to participate quietly, and the older men in the space kept pushing for my energy and attention. I left because I was so burned out I could no longer function. I left because I thought the person in charge of me was acting unfairly towards people I was responsible for and I couldn’t fix it. I left because I wasn’t given the information I needed to do the job properly, and because I was always outside of the key clique. I left because I’d stepped in to try and deal with a conflict and although the conflict sorted, I took so much damage that I couldn’t continue. I left because I was tired of feeling peripheral and making a lot of effort to be somewhere no one needed me. I leave.

The decision not to do any of that again has been a painful one. I crave community. I want to be part of something. But, I’ve never managed to stay in a community space I wasn’t running. I’ve tried, but this stuff is beyond me.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

4 responses to “What is Community?

  • emberbear

    Hi Nimue, you appreciated my last comment, thank you. I have read quite a lot of your posts. I already knew that you write well from reading one of your books. Your blog posts are also very engaging and you reach a level of honesty that is attained by very few people. Reading some of them and this latest one today, I am sad on your behalf. Would you believe me if I told you that the problem is not you, but the people you have been hanging out with in these groups? I strongly recommend an amazing book by Adelyn Birch called 30 Covert Manipulation Techniques. It costs £2.75 to download and takes less than two hours to read. There is a section near the middle on being manipulated by groups that I think will particularly resonate for you. Every kind, giving and sincere person should read this book. It is a game changer. I hope you like it. You are an inspiring writer and person. Hang on in there.

    • Nimue Brown

      thank you for the reading suggestions. there are days when I think it is all my fault and my failing, and days when I question what’s happened and whether it could have gone differently – but I am too much the square peg I think, and even in well-meaning spaces I cannot get myself to fit.

  • eberis

    hello . my community is ecoPagan Canimar Qenos . the designation is 18322.75-1 . I am trying to update the designation to 18322.75~1 but undistricting had capitalization in mind to help with the regard of special council of city council allowing 5 story buildings in new construction of redevelopment . I am a little weird about infrastructure from cannabis money .. and I want the incense shop to realise the construction as close as next door is not a bother if she gets her carpet replaced and last I checked a worker was looking at the linoleum tile floor . I am a 5th Level net.druid2 . ecoPagan communities are based on kingdom communities of designation of a regional update of cannabis legally smoked . you may run this on sharing on a data center of global custom . thanks , hooray . info on mini serv 2 . peace to you .

  • Christopher Blackwell

    Then there are those like me who have no real desire for community. Groups tend to mean group politics, and it is something I have no desire to take part in. It is the same reason that I would rather work by myself, even make less money, than work for someone else, and have to deal with co-workers, again group politics.

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