Creating Community - Agreements

direct link to this page >>

How are Communities Created?
(& how are they destroyed, if they existed previously & then disappear?

Here are some perspectives, as examples (there are many others ... & the best ones are always those you design) 

Here are some examples of shared understandings & agreements - put briefly - that help with the task

Peck's Guidelines

from How Dialogue Works article

(also see Scott Peck page in this e-book)

The research on groups that use the principles of dialogue to build better business teams shows that a spirit of community grows among the participants.  This is the community building work of psychiatrist and popular author M. Scott Peck.

His guidelines are a good outline of how to communicate using the principles of (Bohm's) Dialogue:

  1. 1) Communicate authentically and speak personally, using “I” statements.  (“I” statements are from your own experience.  They refer to something that happened to you and then reveal how you felt, what you thought, what you want or need.  They do not blame or judge the other person for anything.)  For example, “When you came home late without letting me know, I felt worried, disappointed and angry.  I imagined you were either in an accident or just didn’t care that it was our anniversary.  I want an apology and in the future I want you to let me know if you’re going to be late.”
  2. 2) Suspend judgments, assumptions and opinions by noticing and disclosing them to the group as soon as they arise. 
  3. 3) Deal with difficult issues as they arise and strive to bridge the differences without sweeping them under the rug. 
  4. 4) Seek, honor and affirm diversity.
  5. 5) Be inclusive; avoid exclusivity. 
  6. 6) Express displeasure within the group, not outside the group.
  7. 7) Commit to "hang in," even when things get difficult. 
  8. 8) Speak when moved to speak; don't speak when not moved to speak. (This guideline has us paying closer attention than we normally do to how we feel inside during a conversation or a meeting.  Paying attention to our inner feelings can, as Bohm suggested, slow us down enough to bring new ideas to the surface.)
  9. 9) Participate verbally or nonverbally.
  10. 10) Be emotionally present with the group.
  11. 11) Respect confidentiality.


These 11 principles coincide beautifully with David Bohm's ideas and "community" is precisely the outcome Bohm hoped for, even if he didn't necessarily use that term.  We don't have to join a Bohmian dialogue group or sign up for a  community building weekend to put these ideas into practice.   

The basic skills are simple: Notice your own thought process, then intentionally suspend your assumptions, beliefs and opinions to continue the conversation with a more "open" mind, thereby maximizing the chances that we can understand and empathize with the other person's viewpoint.  Ideally all involved would share and make transparent their thought process, but this rarely happens outside a structured environment.  

When we make this change on our own and can't risk that kind of vulnerability, it is enough to be aware of our opinions and judgements and suspend them without sharing what we're doing.  In this way we are intentionally modeling a new way of being in relationship and over time, it will have an impact

Continue reading on Empathy & Self-Care

Six Ingredients 

for Forming Communities

(That Help Reduce Conflict Down the Road)

by Diana Leafe Christian

See full article attached + video above

this is the summary of the points:

  1. 1. Fair, Participatory Decision Making

  2. 2. Vision and Vision Statement: "What We Are About"

  3. 3. Know What You Need to Know

  4. 4. Clear Agreements, in Writing

  5. 5. Good Communication Skills

  6. 6. Select for Emotional Well-Being

Findhorn Guides 

for Living in Community

from an Editorial in PC Magazine 

1. Practice the Art of Personal Presence.  Embrace the tension of opposites and tolerate and encourage the abstract, the unexpected and the discomfort of expanded consciousness.  

2. Practice Mudhita, the ageless Buddhist practice that is the other side of the coin of compassion.   Identify with the joy, gifts, pleasures and awakenings of others. This is the art of vicarious joy that banishes cynicism & envy.   

3. Make your communication mindful and compassionately brief.  Be appropriate, both on a one to one basis and with the whole group.   

4. Do not ‘triangulate’. If we have issues or conflicts we should clear them with the individual concerned & not report to others. This is all about cultivating a culture of direct communication rather than gossip.  

5. Practice punctuality. Time is limited. It demonstrates a respect for group process.   

6. Practice consensus by default, perhaps the most difficult ideal to achieve at all times.   

7. Celebrate!  & Practice Random Acts of Play & Kindness.

Group Agreements

for advanced groups by Roger M. Schwarz

1) Check your suppositions and inferences

2) Share all relevant information

3) Use specific examples & come to agreements about important words

4) Explain your reasoning & intention

5) Centre on interests & not on positions

6) Combine persuasion with inquiry

7) Design together the next steps & how to test disagreements

8) Discuss the unspeakable

The Skilled Facilitator: Practical Wisdom for Developing Effective Groups 

(Jossey Bass Public Administration Series), 

by Roger M. Schwarz

How to Build Community

... who have an interesting mission and say this about their name:

“Cultural Workers” The term “cultural worker” may be new to some people. We use it to suggest several things. 

First, that the task of creating culture in a society is not the work of an elite, highly-paid few—which has become the case in our mass-market society; for example, if a restaurant needs a painting for its wall or a musician to entertain its customers, why not seek out the talents of local people rather than the highly-paid “notables that have made it..” 

Second, that people who create culture are legitimate workers who deserve to be recognized and valued for their work, not “patronized.” 

Third, that the process of creation is based in a desire to improve the lives of people not to just turn a profit. 

Fourth, that all of us, in some way, are capable of being cultural workers if we can only free ourselves from “I’m not talented” paralysis that elitism and competition produce in our capitalist society.

Committing for the Long Term

Do We Have What It Takes?

by Carolyn Shaffer

LINK to Article here

(Adapted from the November 21, 1998 keynote address at the FIC's Art of Community weekend conference, Willits, California)

Building community, I believe, is one of the hardest things we can do today. It is also one of the most important. Without learning and practicing the art of living simply and sharing resources, we will not be able to reverse the ecological destruction that's going on. I don't think I have to say more about that, other than that sharing is hard. Agreeing on a common vision and mission is hard. Carrying it out is harder still. You have to deal with differences.