Communities: Four Lessons Learned

It’s that time again.  The Group Writing Project!  Our assignment this month is to write about What I Learned From Community (assignment found here).

I attended a conference last week (SOBCon) in Chicago.  Chris Brogan spoke about being in the center of  a community of 150 people.  More than that and you can’t really communicate.  However, you can have several of these 150 people communities!  It’s actually called Dunbar’s number and 150 would be the mean group size for communities with a high incentive to remain together.  
As I’ve aged, I’ve been more diligent about the communities I choose to be involved with.  There is lesson number one: be picky, choose a community wisely.  I have a close circle of friends (group one), my church community (group two), my Melaleuca community (group three).  Each of these groups have a high incentive to remain together!  
I’ve also moved myself closer to the center of the group.  I CHOOSE to be active in these groups, it helps to define my life.  Lesson number two: find communities that move you, be involved.  My friends value my input and call me on the crap I might be spewing.  My church friends are committed to becoming closer to God and to working together to see God in the everyday.  My Melaleuca community believes in enhancing lives, helping people get out of debt and providing safer products to the world.  
Social networking is becoming a community I’ve flirted with in the past, and am now helping to build.  There are a group of people I follow on Twitter and friend on Facebook.  The friendships are not as tight, but they are connected.  Lesson number three: everyone has a lesson to teach.  I listen hard, respond well and learn a lot from this community.  It’s a changing community – rather like riding a canoe downstream.  Sometimes fast and running the rapids, sometimes you sit and watch the bank.  It brings me connection to places I might have never ventured to.  It brings me joy.  And sometimes there are overlaps into my other communities.  
Lesson number four: when we work together, we accomplish more.  And that is the most valuable lesson.  As humans, we need our own communities!  The interactions are necessary to move us out our own heads, to join together to make necessary changes.   Much like the ants above, it often takes more than one person to change the world
picture courtesy of fdecomite at


  1. Robert Hruzek on May 11, 2009 at 1:03 am

    Nicely stated, Deb! I wonder if that Dunbar number means you can have 150 150-member communities? Man, that’s a lotta connections!

    Hey, thanks for the contribution to this month’s WILF! Tip o’ the hat to ya!

  2. Deb Brown on May 11, 2009 at 1:16 am

    Thanks Robert –
    I like writing for WILF, and this was a good lesson for me to put on paper (so to speak).

    so how many 150’s do you have? 🙂


  3. Fred Schlegel on May 11, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Be picky, be active, be open. I could have used that advice a long time ago. But we live and learn.

  4. Deb Brown on May 11, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    Couldn’t we all? But … better late than never! Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Karen Swim, Words For Hire on May 12, 2009 at 1:33 am

    Deb, such profound lessons. I love how you point out that communities can form around shared values and interests and the strength of the bonds may differ but always, always there are opportunities for learning, growth and sharing. Excellent!

  6. Deb Brown on May 12, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    and I went outside early this a.m. and took a deep breath …..what a difference! Thanks for that advice.