Creating Containers for Community

I am going through my Identity Woman posts and have found some old posts that get at the heart of facilitation and creating good space.

Some came before I ever began this blog. This one reflects on a disastrous event I attended and then used the opportunity to articulate what goes into good events…

This metaphor of the container is one that comes from my work in spiritual activism. How are you going to honor peoples time and the gifts they are bringing to what ever purpose you have. This container involves the whole of the event:

  • the initial intention
  • who is included in manifesting the intention
  • who is invited
  • choice of process and facilitation
  • proposed goals outcomes
  • the physical aspects of the event –
  • Location – inside/outside – bigroom/lots of small rooms – bathrooms or not
  • nourishment needs (food and drink)

The creation of a strong community container is one of the keys to success for online worlds too. Claire from SUN has this post referencing Caterina Fake about how they (FLICKR) focused (and continue to focus) very strongly on the container of community. This positive field of feedback has drawn energy towards them.

People are more likely to work well together well not only when they have a common interest or shared set of goals – but also when there is a personal connection. I try to work well with most people, but I’m much more motivated to to cut people slack when I know a little bit about who they are, when I can tease them about their taste in a band called FloggingMolly, when I know that they like to delve into 1337 5p34k on occasion, or if I know that her talented brother went to RISD and is friends with the infamous creator of of Andre The Giant Has A Posse.

Caterina Fake of Flickr fame recently blogged about building a flickricious sense of community (gotta love that word) – and the importance of personal connections caught my eye. One relevant quote from Caterina – the part about personal – and authentic – communication is at the end of the paragraph:

“In the beginning, the creators of the community space have to create the tone and attitude of the place, set the parameters of what is and what is not allowed, and participate heavily, engaging directly with other people, mercilessly kicking/banning trolls, creating a real sense of there being a there there. Friendster, and the banning of “Fakesters” is often used as an example of a misunderstanding of online community — but I think this misunderstanding went back further, to the beginning. I was an early member of Friendster and, the first message I got was from the founder. “How do you like the service?” he asked, and not — and this is really the crux of it — “Pynchon! Man, how can you read that stuff! DeLillo is 10X better.” or “ZEPPELIN ROX! Zoso is my favorite album!!!” I’d filled out a profile. See what I mean?”

What’s the conclusion? Growing the OpenSolaris community is going to involve building lots of these personal connections. Personal and authentic, not stiff and corporate. Cool.

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