a neighborhood place

voices from community

At the Intersection of Community and Story

As communities, and by that I mean the groups with which we self-identify, we have stories about ourselves. Like five-minute elevator speeches, they flow out of us as explanation of who our group is, what we believe, and where we think we are going. They are often closely held beliefs and powerful motivators of our actions.

They are also, most often, the lies we tell ourselves.

Like all stories told over time, our narratives have a life of their own. We stop being critical of them because we have so much invested in their being right. So, we aren’t lying exactly, we just stopped looking in the mirror objectively and now just read from the script we created long ago.

The other day, after a long meeting, a co-worker and I were treating ourselves to the IPAs we so richly deserved after such hard work. In the course of the conversation that followed, my co-worker made the observation, “Isn’t it amazing how right we are about the world and how wrong everyone else is.” We laughed of course, in our smug self-deprecating way, but in retrospect, even while mocking ourselves, we need to always be clear: believing our story to be true does not make it true.

Communities need to have the chance to imagine and create a place unique and particular to their values and beliefs apart from their story. Each neighborhood should have an opportunity to discover what will be an authentic vision for a shared experience of community belonging and relatedness.

It must be said that almost every neighborhood not already served by community space – and maybe even some that do – has a potential for the creation of community space. For these communities and neighborhoods the process of growing community space goes like this: Contact is made among community leaders, a vision is shared, the community responds, and new life is created in shared space. We want to stay in continuous contact with these communities by sharing their vision with all as projects are created and developed.

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