One Simple Idea that Will Change Your Community and Life

I’m becoming increasing convinced that the best way to build community is to create together. Furthermore, the greater the creation, the deeper the community that results. If you are creating something that really matters with others, I mean the kind of thing that you really long to see manifested in the world, then deeper parts of those involved will be invited to come out and play.

This has happened a number of times for me. It’s been fun to see the projects that have been birthed and the community that has come: The Prop — a network of people doing good in the world, Bikes Vs. Cars — an app to encourage cycling over car use, Subtext — a platform for underlying voices, thoughts, and stories, and a secret society where people tell stories and share experiences of who they are.

I’ve heard it said that the easiest way to change your life is to change the people you spend time with. I think that’s true, because you are impacted by the people around you. Their thoughts, values, preferences, personalities, and desires begin to rub off over time. Some argue that if you want to change your life, the easiest, quickest, and best way to do it is by changing who you spend your time with.

I’m more interested in another idea: changing your community by creating, initiating, and inviting others to come around you to collaborate. It’s the opposite approach, i suppose.

Don’t change your community to change your life, change your community by creating with them.

If you want to make a change, take a risk and make something together. As you work together, you will find that your collaborators will know you deeper and call you to do and be more than you ever expected — sometimes in big ways and sometimes in small ones. What you create will inevitably be something different than you set out to create, and who you all are will inevitably be shaped by the process.

Now, I want to hear from you. In the comments, what ways have you seen community come from creating together? Click here to comment.

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  1. Kyle Ellman December 30, 2013 at 9:26 am


    I’m so very excited to begin changing (with) my community through the work I will be doing in the coming years. Thank you for helping me see that and even being a part of it.

    1. Dan Cumberland December 30, 2013 at 8:15 pm

      Also, your left hand made a guest appearance in this week’s photo!

  2. Victor Saad December 30, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    totally agree. grateful for the moments spent creating with you.

    1. Dan Cumberland December 30, 2013 at 7:39 pm

      Likewise Victor. You’ve been a big part of this for me!

  3. Jeff Strietzel December 30, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    Great thought, Dan. You have put your finger on something I get to witness everyday in student development, just in a way I hadn’t thought of before. Thank you.

    1. Dan Cumberland December 30, 2013 at 7:38 pm

      Glad it resonates! Thanks for reading, Jeff!

  4. Neil Bruinsma December 31, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    This is good insight. I am seen it work best with people coming together over food and then having intentional conversations about how one another are really doing.

    1. Dan Cumberland January 1, 2014 at 1:44 pm

      I agree — food and intention are always great community builders! Thanks for reading Neil.

  5. Megan Marcoux January 2, 2014 at 8:20 am

    Thanks for the post, Dan. This makes me think of a quote a dear friend shared with me recently:

    “Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames”
    ― Rumi

    I’ve had a number of wonderful community-building experiences, one of which has been creating a bike co-op with like-minded cyclists in my city (Saskatoon, SK, Canada). It truly is amazing to see what can happen when people collaborate – fan each other’s flames, so to speak – for the common/better good.

    (BTW, I’m intrigued by the Bikes vs. Cars app – have subscribed to receive more info.)

    1. Dan Cumberland January 2, 2014 at 9:44 am

      Hey Megan! Thanks for reading. I love that Rumi quote. It feels very fitting here!

      I’d love to get your thoughts on Bikes vs. Cars when we launch. Our beta should be out in the next couple weeks. Our target audience is people just like yourself. Thanks again for stopping by!

    1. Dan Cumberland January 8, 2014 at 6:24 pm

      Hey Jonathan! This is so great! I love that my words here inspired you to write your own. It’s a great piece too!


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