Grass-Root Movement Community Building
- By Bahram Maskanian
Civilized and respectable community is developed out of respect for individual member's differences, gifts and merits.
It is vital, to withhold one-sided self-satisfying judgment about another person's ideas and values.
To communicate effectively, it is essential to speak personally and specifically, rather than generally and abstractly.
It is important to free your mind from prejudices, expectations, ideologies, and the need to control, and other preoccupations when building a grass-root community.
An open mind and free from prejudices is required to listen objectively, both to our inner voice of reason and the voices of others, and is required on a group level for community formation and maintenance.
Recognizing The True Value And Dynamics Of Grass-Root Movement Community:
The experience of genuine community is empowering, healing and unifying.
Vulnerability in sharing your own pain allows you to experience others' vulnerability, thus healing and transforming, vulnerability, to resistance.
Sharing heartache as well as joy is an essential part of genuine healthy community development.
It is necessary from time to time to monitor the process of the group as a whole in order to enhance and maintain community's energy and effectiveness.
By shifting your awareness from individual members to the group as a whole, you can become conscious of the group as an organism.
For example, when in meetings the group has become quieter, or the laughter seems different, etc.
Some Characteristics of Genuine Grass-Root Movement Community:
A Genuine Grass-Root Movement Community is inclusive and accepting. Individual merits and differences are celebrated collectively.
True community is safe and confessional. Each member is free to express his or her fact of reality. There is an opportunity to express both the sadness and happiness. Genuine community facilitates healing and converting - once members stop trying to heal and convert one another.
It manifests a palpable community spirit. A community is contemplative and introspective. Its members are progressively learning to be open-minded, and consequently are progressively learning to be responsive to the spirit of sharing - to speak when they feel moved, and to be silent when feeling stilled.
It is a group of all leaders who share equal responsibility for and commitment to maintaining community spirit. And, it is an ideal decision-making body.
It is also a group whose members can exchange thoughts and ideas gracefully.
A genuine community is a group of peoples who cherish one another and who grow to understand and love the many kinds of common values and concerns they all share.
Some Thoughts on Grass-Root Movement Community Building:
Community building is to the collective what spiritual practice is to the individual.
Community building brings process into the political arena, altering hierarchical forms of organization, which often lead to the individual's alienation and isolation.
Authenticity is an expression of one's truth in the moment offering an opportunity to connect with our deepest selves. We achieve authentic expression by speaking from our inner selves, and not from our social masks, or false identifications.
Changing our process, the way we interact, is a political act moving us into a new model that heals the split between means - ends, mind - body, being - doing.
The goal is to experience authentic community. We seek to create a sacred space for communion, which once achieved, allows easeful dialogue and harmony in collective action.
When we are being asked to speak from our inner self, we are not responding directly to each other, but to what the other has elicited in us. This is a distinction between community building and interactive dialogue.
We use "I" statements to facilitate describing our experience of what we perceive to be occurring. Speaking from the "I" does not guarantee understanding, or that you'll be heard, but provides the opportunity for it.
Silence is a part of speech. The request to say our name is a way of providing a pause to center and ground us.
A willingness to be present with both one's positive and negative feelings, allows participants to move beyond masks into authentic communication.
As we dispense with the masks that keep us from each other, and ourselves, we discover the spontaneity and joy when we allow our real selves to emerge. Paying rigorous attention to who we are and how we are with each other is not a burden or chore, but a privilege.
The community building process invites us to access our feelings, thus breaking through the pervasive denial separating us from what is real.
Community building is an experiential process for which each person is equally responsible.
Facilitators are guides who have experienced community but cannot plan what will happen.
Never Give Up,
"Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will." - Frederick Douglass