Let’s be clear about community…

Facebook locked me out! Mostly I used that little bit of social media to “like” what someone posted.  I rarely posted anything myself.  More important to me – I used Facebook to see what my grandkids are up to. Forensics and robot competitions, lacrosse practice. Dressing up for dances. Playing timpani in a school concert. Getting a first car. Fun stuff. It was a way to connect with family. One kind of “community” – but only visual – I’d really rather talk with them.

For a couple of days I just ignored the spinning Facebook icon on my tablet – and then I got curious about what was going on. After a lot of fiddling around (I’m sure I should have asked someone much younger for help) I was told that “they” didn’t believe I was who I said I was.  Eventually, I had to scan my driver’s license, cross out what I didn’t think was their business, take a picture of the marked up scan and upload it to some place out there in cyberspace . . . and “they” reinstated my account.  Only, guess what?  It wasn’t the Facebook account where I’m connected to hundreds of “friends”.

The upshot is that I really don’t want to waste the time I used to spend scrolling though the “curated” posts “they” decided I should see. So, I’m missing from Facebook and right now don’t know if I’ll ever go back. I’ve asked my kids to send photos and call more often and not depend on my keeping up by scrolling through a social media platform I don’t enjoy any more. I want my personal community to be a bit more intimate.

The free time has allowed me to read more . . . blogs, journals and books.  It’s the blogs I want to talk about right now. Especially the blogs that have lots of “overused” word lists. I can agree with “awesome”, “totally” and “hashtag” being on the lists.  Saying that the word “community” is one I should stop using made me bristle.

All of us who write or speak in public (especially my nonprofit friends) use the word “community” a lot. So does the newspaper. So do people in meetings. And I’ve begun to notice that depending on the setting or context, the word can have very different meanings. It could be geographic proximity or like-thinkers. It could mean those we go to church with or extended families. There are so many “communities” out there I can see where someone could say we over-use the word.

But honestly, (that’s another word on the no-no lists) I think community is a great word. I love this definition – which comes from www.artsjournal.com:  Community is a place that we hold in common . . . a place where we take initiative to make changes and share with each other … [A place] where each citizen has duties and functionsAnd finally, a community must be a place where people are comfortable to talk intimately, to befriend, to support, to grieve and to celebrate together.  If I had to state in other words what the One Valley Prosperity Project means, this definition would be a definite contender.

I want to be clear about what the Foundation means when we use the word. Most often we mean the “greater” community of all those who live in what has come to be known as the “Valley”. We won’t stop using the word . . . it’s an important term in the context of our work. Our greater community is really everyone who lives, works and plays in this glorious high mountain valley. Our smaller communities are our donors and our Valley nonprofits. They are all in our “relationship” circle. We know them, care about them and love them.

Donors: You lift up the meaning of community when you connect your passion for a cause with your gifts of time, talent and treasure.

Nonprofits: You serve your niche communities with compassion and your donors with love – making this Valley a better place to be.

Community: Let’s take to heart the “place to…befriend…support…grieve and celebrate together. That’s what makes the Valley one loving place to be.

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