Community - Place One, Two, Three

who am i now Oct 22, 2015

I sat beside a gentleman on a flight recently who was on his way to speak at an international conference. Considered an expert on the topic of “community”, he shared his theory that as humans; we flourish and benefit from having three “places of community” throughout our lives. For most of us, our home and family is usually ‘Place One’, and depending on your age; school or work is usually ‘Place Two’.

‘Place Three’ in today’s accelerated, mobile oriented and often time’s isolated life styles can be more elusive. In simpler days, when families were typically large and extended, many were born and spent most or all of their lives within a small radius. The ‘Place Three’ community was rooted in church, ethnic or common interest groups or extended family and neighborhood gatherings.

I was raised in a rural area and I immediately understood this man’s concept of community. My father was the eldest of ten children and my mother was one of six siblings. Both my maternal and paternal grandparents lived less than forty minutes from our farm. I had three siblings, an abundance of aunts, uncles and cousins. There was never a shortage of celebrations to attend, cousins to play with or hand-me-downs to pass along. Doors were rarely locked and an extra place setting or two was cheerfully set on short notice at any meal. The creed that ‘many hands make light work’ was honored and neighbors always came together to put up a new barn, round up livestock or bring in crops whenever needed. Weddings and funerals were always robustly attended and food and conversation were shared in bountiful quantities at all gatherings. There was always someone close at hand to talk with, to learn from or to lean on.

Community is what I grew up enveloped in and took for granted. I was surrounded by people who knew me and shared values and interests. Belonging to a community meant you had status, security and certainty.

As a teen, I know I resented this closeness of community at times; pouting that there was no escaping from ‘somebody’s going to know your family’! As I imagined my future, I pined for the anonymity of a big city and the privacy of isolation.

I struck out into that bigger world early in life, thrilled at first with the freedom of being unknown and undefined. However, it didn’t take me long to realize that being a rugged individualist, a lone wolf and ‘island of my own’ could be exhausting and desolate. Quickly, I came to appreciate the positives of being known, of sharing my joys and my sorrows with others that cheered for me, cautioned me and consoled me. I knew though, that for me, going back to the community that cradled me as a youth would not serve my future.

In the words of fellow traveler and ‘Community’ subject matter expert, Desmond Baker, “It is a wonderful thing to live in the context of community. Among the friendly and familiar we find the stimulus, encouragement and challenge we need to transform the everyday and the ordinary into an exciting tomorrow.”

Our ideal communities are not static. As we develop and change in our lives, it may be necessary to seek out new communities for our next stage of life. An optimal community provides timely support for us to grow.

As you journey through the phases and stages of your life, growth and change are easier and more rewarding when your community evolves with you. As you transition and transform, it may be necessary to seek out new communities to support you.

When you are ready to set the stage for the next and best performance of your life, your encore, look for communities that recognize you and cheer you on.

You are invited to join The Encore Catalyst community @