Imagine you walk into a room and in this room you discover a lot of boxes. Now these boxes come in different shapes and different sizes, but each one of them is interesting in and of themselves. Some boxes are bright and have interesting patterns. Some of the boxes are finely crafted and have the patina of age. Some of the boxes are very plain-looking.
Now imagine that you begin to open some of these boxes and you find amazing things. You find plans and music and objects of beauty and art and, and, and, … What’s interesting about these boxes is that somehow each one of them is connected to every other box in the room and that each have something in common . What’s the thing they have in common? Well to explain that we need to step out of the world of metaphor.
Recently I made a conscious decision to begin to communicate more with my wider community. There was someone I knew and had had a number of meaningful conversations with over the years but we never saw each other regularly. What I did do though was to consciously find a tool that I could keep up with the things he was doing. That tool was twitter.
So I began to pay attention to what he was talking about online and watching the responses he got. I then began to engage with some but not all of the people he was communicating with. At the same time I made an effort to look online for people in my city who were doing things I found interesting or meaningful or inspiring. Again I would use twitter to throw out a comment on their work or thoughts.
Critically I also began to write about and share the things I found meaningful in my life, my community, and in my digital and real life wanderings. The result was that the people I was communicating with tangentially began to comment on what I was doing and eventually I began to invite some of them to participate in some of my work.
I then began to go to attend a few events, meet a few people, and that led to the most important thing. Conversation. Conversation is important for me because it’s where I get to test out my ideas and be influenced by others and their thoughts. It is the essence of engagement and engagement builds community. I have now the beginnings of a broader community and from that I began to join with others in my city to act on the things we care about; Civics, social justice, just doing something fun, or doing something just for the sake of doing it.
For a while I thought “wow this social media thing is world changing” and in some ways it is but there’s an ingredient missing. You can buy the most beautifully well-crafted tools in the world and admire them and polish them and put them under glass but unless you take them out and use them then they are just useless objects. The tool I am talking about though is not Twitter. The tool decided to take out and brush the dust from is one everybody on the planet has…Curiosity. I decided to use my curiosity tool to provide a means to connect to the where I live. I used my curiosity to make a key to open the room to find the beautiful boxes which I opened up to discover my wider community.
There are other tools you can use as well. Creativity is something that everyone in the world has as well and is a tool I use every day. We all have these tools. We all live in a community. Maybe we should use one to help make the other.