Create a community space. That’s our goal. That sounds simple enough.
But wait, what makes a great community space? What does that look like, exactly?
Perhaps I answer too simplistically, but my definition goes like this; in a vibrant community space, people are talking.
My wife and I pop into a great local coffee shop. It’s a successful shop, a busy shop, chock full of the happily caffeinated. The problem, at least I see it as a problem, is that very few folks are speaking to each other. Most heads are down, swimming in smart phone blue light. It’s rare to see someone come up for air. I thought I entered a community space, but quickly realize I’m merely occupying a free Wi-Fi zone where we’ve come together to be alone.
It’s easy to lament the loss of community in today’s hyperactive digital age. The issue runs deeper, though, than a loss of connectivity. It’s also about a loss of civility. The more we disconnect, the less we listen, less we see each other, quite literally, eye to eye. The caustic, the abrupt, the hostile, the acidity of polemic bashing is normalized. Civility itself seems to be in question.
I see the power of community every day. And it is a power. This simple notion of looking each other in the eye, listening to the intonation of voice, seeing the language of the body, remains the most powerful way to be connected.
A special part of being in the tourism industry is watching complete strangers, from different parts of the country, different parts of the world, just start talking to each other. The same thing usually happens, and it happens within a minute; they find common ground. They discover they have something in common and it immediately bonds them. In those magic moments the conversation flows.
It doesn’t matter what exhibits we put up. It doesn’t matter how pretty our new paint job looks. The only thing that truly matters is that the space invites conversation to flow.
That’s a community space. That’s a space worth creating.