• Greg York

Developing and growing community

Updated: Jan 18, 2020

Establishing a community around Appreciation Nation (AN) has been top of mind recently, and it's an extension of the idea of the Appreciation Nation Challenge (ANC). I'll save the Challenge itself and its conception for a future post, but basically, we need a space where our audience can congregate for the Challenge concept to be realized. It was Chase Jarvis, in his book Creative Calling, who really inspired me to start planning toward what our community would look like.

For many companies, a marketing and advertising strategy and budget makes sense. For-profit companies need to think about how to promote their products and services to prospective audiences. Appreciation Nation isn't there yet, and it's not really about that. We're trying to be storytellers and engage with people about growth, gratitude and getting started. We're learning how to inspire others as we develop and inspire ourselves to take on this new thing. So we don't need customers - we need a community.

Jarvis relates how community isn't just about the physical world, and it's not just about the online world. It's an amalgam of both. AN will be successful because Dave and I speak with and engage a community of supporters, and growing that community happens one person at a time, starting with our closest friends and family. This seems very basic, but the idea of cultivating a strong community is not something that I really think I know how to do. Sitting with the question has helped: "How do you intentionally create a vibrant and successful community that people want to be part of?"

Defining Strong Community

A strong community needs to have some identity. Who are we? Appreciation Nation is about personal growth. We want our community to identify with the value of growing and learning, adapting and becoming more resilient. It's about gratitude - being thankful for what is good about the present and appreciative of the contributions of others. In this sense, Appreciation Nation is an optimistic space. It's about getting started. We're the opposite of perfect execution - we're about encouraging and exposing the creative process, which is messy and vulnerable. We need a community where we can share our new creations and life experiments with others who will support us through encouragement and generous feedback.

Gratitude journal entry
Keeping a written gratitude journal creates happiness and inspires creativity. You can do it in a minute before bed or during your morning routine.

A strong community needs to be active and in movement. We need people to be able to share themselves and offer feedback to each other easily. There has to be a forum where people can get to know each other, with some basic decency rules like "be kind," "contribute - don't just be a troll," "don't spam or try to sell yourself, your products or your services," and things like that.

A strong community needs to feel safe. Although growth happens when we're vulnerable in some way, we can't willingly step into vulnerability without some sense of safety. Our community needs to be protected and reserved to a degree, allowed to expand as people with common purpose and belief in the community's values show up. There's not space in a strong community for haters and pessimists. Our community isn't about denying that these forces exist in the world, but to open space for the podcast's Challenges, we need a community which can be insulated temporarily from negativity - an incubation space.

The Vehicle

We're developing the platform for the ANC community using Facebook Groups. You can join now and get ready to participate in the Challenges our guests inspire, that Dave and I will lead and that you can experience and grow within. This is all about Growth, Gratitude and Getting Started.

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