We thrive on social connections – it's in our nature. Yet, as time goes on, we find ourselves more isolated than ever before.
Here's something worth thinking about – loneliness isn't just some fleeting emotion; it's being recognized as a full-blown public health crisis. Researchers have linked poor social relationships, social isolation, and loneliness to a myriad of health problems.
Yet, on the other hand, studies have shown that when we're more socially connected and feel a strong sense of belonging to a community, the negative health effects are actually minimized.
When we're connected to others, we're not just healthier, we're also happier. We feel more supported, more valued, and more like we belong. This is why building sustainable communities that can stand the test of time has become more important than ever.
But why the emphasis on sustainable communities rather than just mentioning communities in general?
Well, at last year's CMX Summit 2022: Thrive, we had the honor of hosting a remarkable keynote speaker, Priya Parker. With expertise and insight, she guided us through the art of re-gathering. During her talk, she explored the very essence of gathering and community, as well as the subtle yet profound differences between the two:
"Communities can have gatherings, and gathering can create a sense of community, but gatherings can also create a sense of isolation. The gathering is not inherently good itself; it's a tool. I think of gathering as a mechanism to build community, but it can also be a mechanism to tear a community apart. The way I see it, gatherings shape the community, influence beliefs, and impact how people perceive their sense of belonging within the community. It's something anyone can do, and it's essential that we strive to get better at using this tool effectively."
Now, consider this: while being a part of a community can indeed be beneficial and even magical, it doesn't automatically guarantee a sense of belongingness. That sense of true connection, of feeling like you genuinely belong, requires something more – cultivating sustainability.
This concept lies at the heart of our mission at CMX Summit 2023: Shine. We're not only here to unravel the secrets of building active and engaged communities but also to delve deep into the art of constructing communities that are built to last. The urgency for dialogues that pave the way for profound change compels us to forge communities rooted in diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. Throughout our summit, we'll have conversations and showcase practical examples. The goal? To craft communities that not only thrive but also go the distance.
We've already kickstarted this talk on our blog, featuring insights from a true community champion, Samantha 'Venia' Logan. As a Community Architect & Founder of SociallyConstructed.Online, armed with a deep understanding of Social Sciences, Samantha has dedicated her research to untangling the knots community managers encounter while nurturing and expanding their communities. She labels these challenges as the "six burdens of community growth." Through her keen identification of these shared hurdles, Samantha aims to equip community managers with a roadmap:
"If we're going to move this industry forward into education and academic use–to find a system for sustainably growing communities beyond their current scales, we're going to need to do this the right way using the social scientific framework."
Before our summit kicks off, we want to keep the conversation going. We reached out to community pros to gain their insights on a question that resonates with the core theme of our summit:
How do you see the principles of sustainability, diversity, equity, and inclusion playing a role in creating communities that can stand the test of time and continue to make a meaningful impact?
The principles of sustainability, diversity, equity, and inclusion are all fundamental to creating and supporting online communities that have longevity and continue to make a meaningful impact. Each has an important role to play.
Communities that prioritize sustainability practices by effectively managing platform resources, implementing long-term content and moderation strategies, and staying on top of changing technologies are more likely to remain active and relevant as trends and behaviors evolve.
Embracing diversity plays an important role in supporting richer discussions, broader problem-solving, and ensuring that there is a wide spectrum of voices contributing to the conversation. This diversity also affords members the opportunity to form meaningful connections with others who share their values, resulting in a shared sense of purpose which is a foundational enabler of inclusive behavior.
Equity plays the role of ensuring that there are equal opportunities for all members to participate in a way that is comfortable for them. This opens the door for the kind of inclusive behavior that fosters trust among members and encourages them to regularly and actively participate in discussions. If you extrapolate that out into a vehicle for interacting in deeper ways and learning to understand others better, you can start to break down the barriers that contribute to disconnection, therefore counteracting member churn.
Each principle in isolation adds value, but when integrated, they work together to form a framework that supports long-term member retention and fosters a sense of belonging – building resilience and longevity into your community.
Communities that thrive over the long term and make a significant impact are those in which members actively offer mutual support, share a range of viewpoints, empower marginalized groups, and celebrate achievements together. Interestingly, these communities naturally embody the principles of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I), often without being consciously aware of it!
Centering diversity, equity, and inclusion is integral to creating sustainable communities. It needs to be a part of the foundation of the community, as without these principles, there is a likely chance that your community foundation is already off to a rocky start. Also, one principle cannot be implemented without the other as they work hand in hand. Communities that attract a diverse membership need to make sure that they have equitable and inclusive practices and processes in place to retain this diversity. When members feel a sense of belonging, psychological safety, and that they can thrive in a community, it will help foster trust that leads to members wanting to continue being a part of the community for a long time to come. One thing to remember is that these principles do not and cannot live in a bubble. Members and community managers should be working towards embodying these principles outside of the community in their daily lives. Without doing the internal work that is needed to keep being committed to upholding these principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion, there is no way that these can truly be enforced into the community itself to have a long-lasting positive impact.
When a community focuses on meaningful impact, it becomes a catalyst for positive transformation. It sets the stage for individual members to evolve into active agents of change, equipped with the tools and resources they need to dismantle systemic barriers and inequalities—whether it’s in “pink-collar” sectors like ours or the broader societal arena. Communities with this focus have a ripple effect extending far beyond their boundaries. Their actions, discussions, and shared learnings often serve as a blueprint for other communities and organizations.
Now, after this sneak peek into the world of sustainable communities, are you ready to take the first step towards nurturing one yourself? Join us at CMX Summit 2023: Shine, where Hawk, Usha, Abbiola, and Morgan join our incredible speaker lineup to provide you with actionable insights into how to create a community that lasts. From the power of community in crafting inclusive remote workplaces, exploring impact-driven strategies, and challenging systemic inequalities in community management, we are discussing it all.
Don't wait – secure your spot now! Tickets are limited, and we don't want you to miss out on this amazing experience.