We need community.

My love of country music started with Johnny.

When I was about 19, I worked in a county western music bar in my small hometown. I loved and still love the storytelling aspect of country music.

The group that worked there was an eclectic mix. We cooked and waited on tables and served drinks until the doors closed at 2am. I was in college and found myself working with the mother of a four year old who was about my same age. Her boyfriend was a piano player (with a bit of a drug issue). The cook was a 35 year old man who had lived in his grandmother’s spare room all of his life. He wrote song lyrics when he couldn’t sleep. The bartender was studying to be a chiropractor in his homeland of New Zealand and was genuinely intrigued with the collection of bands that played on our stage.

Every night after the doors closed and while the world slept we would sit for about an hour and just talk about the night. The music, the people, the community that that loved our small time traveling bands.

I loved that job. And those people.

I loved hearing the mom’s boyfriend play piano (which he had learned to play by ear) as we talked late at night. He didn’t have a piano so he only got to play there as we cleaned up or in the piano store at the local mall. I loved hearing the cook shyly read us his latest lyrics. I loved the New Zealander’s fresh-eyed take on our customers and music.

It felt like an experience I would carry with me forever and itreally has been. I learned something magical that summer. I learned this simple notion:

Community will form naturally and organically when you share common experiences and passions. Even people who at first blush appear very different will form really strong bonds around shared interests.

We have been tasked with empowering our community of Greenville, South Carolina to share our story with the world. It’s an exciting opportunity and project. And it’s had me thinking a lot about the role diversity plays in making a community wonderful.

Each community that we have had the honor of working with has been rich with amazing and diverse people from all walks of life. People whose normal relationship boundries have been set aside because of their shared passion.

I love seeing relationship walls come down.

Come on share. When have you seen this simple truth at work in your life?

  • http://twitter.com/suddenlyjamie Jamie Wallace

    Love this, Robbin. We need more people creating those shared experiences so that more connections are made and bonds formed. That would make for a much nicer and more sustainable world.

    • http://twitter.com/robbinphillips robbin phillips

      Hi Jamie. I love it when you show up here. I have never been more aware of the value community in my life. It’s amazing how we end up right where we are meant to be.

  • http://www.interacter.co.uk/ Neil Hopkins

    I couldn’t agree more! In fact, this premise forms the basis for an ebook I’m working on (based on this post: http://interacter.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/community-network-marketing-%E2%80%93-making-the-global-hyperlocal/ )

    For marketers, I believe that community is more than a mass selling tool. It’s a way to lever meaningful individual action based on tribal mentality for the greater good. It is a hugely powerful tool which, when used correctly, will yield enormous results.

    Great post, as always!

    • http://twitter.com/robbinphillips robbin phillips

      Thanks Neil. I will check out your work.

  • http://profiles.google.com/peninasharon Penina S. Finger

    And you’ve reeled me in to your world by sharing this! If there isn’t already a place where we share stories of tiny, perhaps ephemeral communities that have bloomed in similar ways, maybe we should create one…

    • http://twitter.com/robbinphillips robbin phillips

      I like the way you think. Let’s do it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/michaelcwagner Michael C. Wagner

    My friend Mack Collier pointed me to your post. Totally with you on the formation of community around story! Community is a must. You might like this brief clip of John Ortberg sharing some of the research on the importance of community: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SL3vI_GXuxA

  • Teresa Basich

    One of the places I’ve seen this truth shine most in my life is in the world of CrossFit. It’s such an intense workout style that you can help but build community within the walls of a CrossFit gym. People you’d never almost have a chance to come in contact with outside the gym will finish your workout with you, even if they’ve already finished theirs. They’ll lunge with you and cry in pain with you and look like complete crap at the end of their workout right with you.

    Reebok’s annual CrossFit Games show just how strong the bond is among CrossFitters — competitors cheer each other on and push each other right in the midst of competition. It’s fantastic to watch and I think it speaks to why CrossFitters are so passionate about their sport. I’m not an athletic person but when I walked into my CrossFit gym, my gym mates helped me do things I never thought I was capable of.

    • http://twitter.com/robbinphillips robbin phillips

      I love this story. And feel that same connection in my yoga studio. BTW, I am impressed.