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Together Our Settlement Can Become a Community

Community Building

By Elaine Guerrazzi | June 3, 2019

Jones (1997) was one of the first to distinguish the qualities of an online “gathering”.  He outlined differences between a virtual settlement and a virtual community. A virtual settlement exists when a posting framework and membership exists and is growing. A virtual community evolves as members develop affective bonds. 

Blooms to Blossoms, a virtual meeting place, aligns as a settlement. Our settlement is a community under construction.  

We live life as a consumer, learner, developing human, perceiver, teacher, inhabitant, and participant.  The knowledge, experiences, thoughts, and ideas our group can offer each other serve as the foundation to building our community.  I concluded the About section of my blog stating the goal is to create a community of scholars, practitioners, and pupils. 

We can apply these various lenses of our life in the story Finding the Value in What People Have to Say, from Halcomb’s Epistemological Parables, in Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods. The entire story is in Resources section.

While I take this story from a research textbook I find it connects with my intent to create a sense of belonging with the Blooms to Blossoms residents. The story concludes by stating:

“For the person who is willing to ask and listen the world will always be new. The skilled questioner and attentive listener knows how to enter into another’s experience.”

As technology expands how we live and learn research on place-based neighborhoods and communities has addressed the similarities and differences to the development of virtual communities.  Blanchard & Markus (2004) explore characteristics and processes of virtual communities.  The key components of a sense of virtual community are similar to the McMillan and Chavis (1986) model.

  • Feelings of membership
  • Feelings of influence
  • Integration and fulfillment of needs
  • Sharing emotional connection

Can blogs be a virtual community?  It is my contention, and hope, that the answer is yes.  Level of engagement in a blog mirrors level of engagement in place-based neighborhoods.  

  • There are leaders/core group/facilitators who are active.
  • There are participants who engage regularly with the leader group and other participants.
  • There are lurkers who primarily read only.

Inclusion of all 3 groups is important to building a community.  Each is giving and gaining a sense of belonging through their level of engagement.  Many may believe that the lurkers are not contributing to the community.  I am not in this group.  Consider aspects of your life where you are more engaged than others.  While level of engagement is a key factor for personal development, it is not the only factor.  Think about the Halcomb story and Blooms to Blossoms purpose…listening/reading is engagement/Blooms to Blossoms strives to build a community (online and beyond) who integrate wellness, lifelong learning, and personal development.  The key is under the mat and the door is open to all.

Our community will thrive by embracing all members. Examples of how we can reach all 3 groups include:

  • Those who become the core group will broaden the scope of my work.
  • Those who take part and engage regularly will provide another level of perspective and dimension to the content shared.  
  • Those who lurk will enhance personal development.

I hope you can see the path we can share to create an engaged neighborhood.  I welcome and appreciate your contributions to help guide our personal and group learning. Spreading the word to others can be beneficial to our community development.

Next week I will expand on current application and perspectives of the McMillan and Chavis model.  In addition, thoughts about how membership of a community contributes to wellness. 

What can you do?

Share your thoughts on the Halcomb article

Review the 7 Dimensions of Wellness in the Resources section and think about your current affiliation in other online or place-based communities…how does this affiliation contribute or enhance these dimensions.

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