Friday, December 11, 2009

Sharing Anchors Community

A recent blog posting by Harlene Appelman, Director of the Covenant Foundation, quotes Clay Shirky's book Here Comes Everybody on the notion of "sharing anchor[ing] community." Harlene, thank you for calling our attention to this concept.

What I find particularly exciting about how "sharing anchors community" is that the process is a spiral that builds community strength step by step, over time.

When one person shares and is well received, it helps others feel more trusting. When others feel safe and trusting it encourages them to share. As more people share, more people feel comfortable and share in turn, and so the cycle goes on.

What is going on? Why does it work? Often we do not share for fear of being judged, thinking something along the lines of "I wonder what others will think of what I am doing?" But once someone shares and is received well others realize "oh, I have something I can contribute to others." We all like to be recognized for what we do and to be validated for our accomplishments.

Over time, community members begin to share more deeply and readily, and over time a spiral of sharing leads to trust, which leads to more sharing, which leads to more trust -- creates a sense of community. Above is a diagram that captures the cycle.

So what can you do to help build a trusting community? Even the smallest step is important.
  • Share something you know with someone or a group who might benefit from it.
  • Express gratitude to someone who shares -- drop them an email or mention something the next time you see them.

As in a row of dominoes, you may set off a chain reaction of trust and sharing. And the world certainly needs much more of these!