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Community Is Not a Plastic Bag

Feb 2, 2023

by Matthew Rezac, ACC, MPS

The word “community” gets thrown around a lot, especially online. Type your email, make a click, and BAM! You’re in. Welcome to the community.

Communities are common as plastic bags these days. Apparently, they’re as nourishing as plastic bags, too. According to the Harvard Graduate School of Education, 36% of all Americans—including 61% of young adults and 51% of mothers with young children—feel “serious loneliness.”

Despite our loneliness, we are not separate. When we finally get quiet enough to see what’s really going on, we find simple, safe, calm, loving awareness that permeates all things. We could not live for one hour as a solo organism. No body, mind, or sense of consciousness can exist in isolation.

Thich Nhat Hanh created the term Inter-being as a state of connectedness and interdependence of all phenomena.

How can we experience this inter-being? How can we get a visceral, felt sense of the truth that we are not alone?

It takes more than a few clicks. As coaches, we have a unique opportunity to help society relearn the ancient, vital art of community-making. That’s why MCS offers Group Coaching: Unleashing the Transformative Potential of Community. In class we hold space to relearn what it’s like to be a real community.

Community is a highly participatory, unpredictable endeavor. It’s a place of unearthing. It’s an encounter where we go to expand understanding, to get riled up, to take a stand, to courageously experience our limitations, to laugh upon the discovery of our own ridiculously naïve point of view.

In this spirit, the course design is “meta.” You’ll experience it while learning about it while building it. Being in the class is like being in Group Coaching Cohort; assignments help you design (or refine) your own group coaching offering.

How do you design a gathering? What hats do you wear? How do you guide (but not control) generative conversations? How do you help a group set an agenda and stay accountable? How do you create conditions where everyone feels safe and welcome to participate?

A wise mentor once told me “you can start a group, but you can’t start a community.” That’s because real community is built over time. Communities require genuine relationships. Active participation. The creation of trust and belonging.

If you’re reading this, you’ve likely experienced the transformative power of the MCS community. Let’s “up our game” on how to take this experience into the world.

Come practice the vital art of community making!

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