People overestimate how complicated it is to create a community. It's hard work! Often under-appreciated work! but it's not complicated.
People think of building a community as a daunting endeavor that takes a ton of people & resources to make happen, but from my experience, There is an old saying that reigns true in the face of these doubts.
"If you build it, they will come" - Field of Dreams
You shouldn't. I am just some guy on the internet. Why would you listen to anyone on here? I could be an AI bot, for all you know.
But, if you are hungry for insights on building community, and that is more important than wondering if you should listen to me, let me share a bit about me.
I am currently the Chairman of the board for the Eritrean Muslims Council, a non-profit organization started roughly 20 years ago to serve as a means of empowerment for a large Eritrean Muslim community spread globally, but with a focus on North America.
For those asking Eri-what?, Eritrea is a small East African Nation with amazing geographic beauty and a capital dubbed "Africa's little Rome" due to its Italian colonial past.
I took on the role at 23 years old, making me the youngest "leader" of the community in the organization's history. now nearly four years later, I have insights I hope can benefit anyone like me four years ago, craving community, craving a space for belonging, who is willing to do the work to see it happen.
Over my 4 years as a community custodian, I've had the pleasure of working with a team that has
Some people might consider me a community organizer, but I beg to differ. I am a community member who was willing to help organize.
There is a sentiment amongst some of the older generation of my community (although I am sure this is shared with many other communities) that a title defines who organizes or is considered a leader, but I beg to differ. I believe everyone, through the small actions they take within the tribe, is a leader to some extent. Our collective actions truly "lead," making us all leaders regardless of title.
Just because I play a role today doesn't mean I stop leading when I no longer have a position. So in Sharing my experiences on creating community, I ask you to remember:
My goal was never status, respect, or clout, but rather my goal is to see the community I am part of & the connections it creates survive. Ultimately helping the individuals that are a part of it thrive.
So whether you have a title or not doesn't matter; leadership is a mindset & if you are willing to be curious, solve problems you are passionate about, and guide others towards doing the same, the level of impact you have had is worth more than any title that could be bestowed upon you.
I don't expect you to subscribe to my beliefs, but I want to make clear what sparked me to work for others free of charge and what I hope could inspire you to do the same. Because I spent years doing work in the background before being offered a title & it felt more fulfilling than the responsibility and stress of a title.
In my upcoming blog posts, I want to share my insights on building community and belonging. My hope is that someone, like me at 23 years old, who just wants to see these values survive, can come away feeling empowered to take on the challenge. I want to show that it's not complicated and that anyone can do it with hard work and dedication. By building it, the resources and people required to make the community happen will come. So, let's take on this challenge together because "If you build it, they will come."