Creating Community

There was once a time when I was commuting to work and needed to take a shower because I was sweaty from the commute. I was inappropriately attired to go into the office, but there was a park across the street with a pool and a shower. Originally, I had planned to swim like I had consistently done for a month, which would have allowed me to both swim and shower. However, there is a fee for the pool, which I mistakenly thought I had with me. There was still a shower, though, which would allow me the chance to change and get to work on time. To that end I asked the pool attendants not if I could swim, but if I could use the shower so that I could avoid going to the office in my swim attire. Because community had been established before I made this request of them, they happily agreed so that I could go into work and maintain the community relationship.

What is establishing community? Consistency is always the first component, yet an often overlooked step. One cannot simply go to an area and expect people to accommodate them. If someone has neither been somewhere before nor seen those involved, it is inappropriate to approach and asking for something. To establish any relationship, one has to acknowledge consistent behavior and understand that people also want to know somebody before they potentially risk a problem. Therefore, consistency needs to include circumstances that neither demand nor require excessive deviance from either party. In short, if I had never have been to that pool before or paid, they might assume that I would demand to use the pool. Because I went to that pool regularly and had spoken to them, they knew who I was and were aware that I like to swim and worked close to the area.

The second part of consists of creating community involves reasonable demands with set executions. One of the big problems with community plans is that they are often vague with very vague expectations. There is no moment when the task is “complete” or “successful”; it is simply considered “in progress,” but there are no specific deadlines for when said task is completed. Despite the dominant narrative, it is extremely reasonable to expect that a task have an end date without relentless procrastination. All I asked was to take a shower before work. The attendants knew I would not stay long because 1) there would be no swimming and 2) I had to go to work. I knew not to interfere with any of their work since there were other swimmers in the pool. A brief agreement would be completed within the span of half an hour, which is why they agreed and why I directly completed the task and then left. Can this be done with larger projects? I believe so, but again, there has to be an understanding of set execution for specific expectations from both parties.

Finally, we all acknowledged our limitations. My clothing was inappropriate for work, but they cannot let me swim for free. This brief agreement did not breach any of those expectations. Both of us were able to maintain as much acknowledgement of the regular agreement–i.e. I pay to engage with that pool–as possible before before we deviated. All I asked for was a shower so that I could go to work. This did not take anything from them and it was beneficial for me; none of their jobs would be at jeopardy by my taking a brief shower and then going to work. Consistency, set execution, and acknowledgement of the liabilities of both parties. These are the three components of establishing. Without these three components, someone is simply invading a space and expecting accommodation without acknowledging the other party has the right to agree or disagree.

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