Frequently, I ponder the concept of community, how it’s built, how it’s maintained and what gives it life.
I’ve always kept my personal circle small. My wife and I are a team and a pretty effective one as well.
My parents are fantastic people, supportive, knowledgeable and dependable.
I have solid neighbors, several of whom I’ve built a closer relationship with since the pandemic caused all kinds of shifts in our routine and outlook.
But for the last several years, I’ve been searching for something in particular. I wanted to be part of a network of people who focused on the concepts of personal responsibility, personal liberty and effective communication. In addition, I was interested in folks who burned with the desire and ability to get stuff done. I knew this kind of search couldn’t be forced and would need to evolve organically.
One of my personal tenets is to never stop learning. Therefore, whenever my work allows, I’ve got a podcast in my ears. Around 2 years ago, I discovered a podcast called Living Free in Tennessee. The tagline is “Building the Life You Want to Live On Your Terms.”
This may sound obvious but a lot of people find themselves with a life they didn’t choose and are deeply unsettled. This podcast, hosted by Nicole Sauce, is packed with actionable lessons, many of which come from the perspective of a homesteader but are applicable to anyone’s life.
As someone who believes that we may not choose what happens to us, we can still choose how we respond to those circumstances. In other words, we can design our own lives. Better still, we can surround ourselves with people who embrace and practice that belief as well. Then we all support one another in those efforts. It’s simple. It’s effective.
Nicole hosts a workshop every spring and after weathering the need to reschedule from April to June, the workshop launched on June 11. It was centered around the theme of growth, both personal and professional. Hosted on her homestead in Middle Tennessee, the workshop was packed with classes on practical skills such as knife sharpening, canning and fermentation. There was also instruction on organizational methods, financial planning and in my opinion, the best concept I’ve encountered lately: project accelerators. During a project accelerator, a person presents a business plan or an idea or goal they’d like to achieve. Using a facilitator, the audience provides ideas and actions to help that person make that idea a success. It’s the best way of putting the hive mind to work. It’s concise and motivating. The accelerator I took part in gave me a page full of notes and actions to take to grow this business. I’ll pursue them not only because they’re great ideas and methods but also because folks used their creative energy to assist me and it’s appropriate to return that energy.
In addition, I watched a full scale build out of a solar water heater, and participated in building a hoop house (that’s going to happen here at home for sure) There was also a class for beekeeping basics.
There was plenty of downtime for conversation and socializing and while I tend to be a bit of a perimeter type, I made an effort to be more outgoing. Many people there already knew each other, and being the new guy, I did not want to seem like I was asserting myself into an established dynamic. I try to organically mesh with these sorts of things. Folks made an effort to include me, not out of a sense of obligation, but because they actually wanted my perspective. Before long, I was comfortable enough to participate and figure out how to incorporate myself into the group dynamic.
I went to the workshop mainly for the classes and I was hoping to meet some like minded folks as well. By the end of the workshop, I came away with several new friends and stacks of resources. I’m deeply grateful for this experience and I’m looking forward to cultivating it further. When we were exchanging goodbyes, Nicole thanked us for our time, our assistance and for the type of energy we brought to the gathering. That was a tremendous compliment. I’ve spent a lot of years feeling out of place and out of step with the way our world works (or rather, at times, doesn’t work) and it’s a relief to find that I’m not a solitary contrarian.
I encourage everyone to never stop looking for and building community. Embody the energy that you’d like to attract and that community will begin to grow. As Douglas Rushkoff implores: “Find the Others.”
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