4 Stages of Community Building
We hear a lot about community these days, but do we really know what “community” is and how community building happens? I thought I did until I read Scott Peck’s book, The Different Drum. In this wonderful work, Peck completely dissects the concept of community. Reading this book changed the way I regarded groups I belonged to and helped me to understand the process of community building. Often, what is labeled “community” is not really community at all.
In The Different Drum Peck talks about his experiences with community. He identifies four stages a group passes through on their way to community and describes them in detail. Here is a brief overview.
Stage 1: pseudocommunity
This happens when we first meet. We’re happy to be together and we’re anxious to get along. We focus on all the things we have in common and we’re enjoying one another’s company. We believe we are a community already – so easy – but we haven’t even scratched the surface yet. The feeling is “We’re all so much alike!”
Stage 2: chaos
Sooner or later, we begin to notice we’re not all that much alike. We take exception to what someone says. We dare to disagree and we become frustrated with other members of the group. We try to help and heal others. The feeling is, “We’re not alike at all, but I can help these people!”
Stage 3: emptiness
This is a giving-up stage, a letting go; a time when we all stop judging and helping one another and accept that we are all different and we don’t have to agree or be the same. The feeling is: “We’re all different and that’s okay.”
Stage 4: community
Once we empty ourselves of judgments and desires to help and heal, we quickly move into community. Stage 4 looks like stage 1 but it feels completely different. The feeling is difficult to capture in a few words but it’s something like this: “Look at us – all here – together!”
There’s a lot more to Scott Peck’s community than I can outline here. If you are interested in community, I highly recommend reading The Different Drum and my second book, Sounding the Drum: Community Building in the Digital Age, a book inspired by Peck’s seminal work.
Have you ever experienced true community? Did your group go through the stages that Peck writes about? We talk about the Life, for instance community, but are we a community – yet?
photo credit: Sundve