Building community in a time of division

child yelling into microphoneHow can we be building community when we can’t stop yelling at each other? Good question.

This week in the US is Thanksgiving (the Canadians are way ahead, having celebrated in October). The traditional symbols of the US holiday leave much to be desired – the elementary school pageants of our childhood notwithstanding, the Pilgrims did not wear hats fashioned out of black construction paper, and whatever meal they might or might not have shared with local indigenous people, it bore little resemblance to today’s menu. The enduring meaning of the holiday, for most Americans, is community, particularly community with friends and family (even if COVID has had an impact on this year’s observance).

While we don’t often use the term in Strategic Doing, the discipline really is all about building a new community through collaboration, often among people who haven’t had reason to work together before.  In a year that has seen many of the groups we may be part of splinter along political, racial, economic or other lines, how do we think about community now? In our November Third Thursday, we asked several people to reflect on this topic, and this week’s podcast is a portion of that discussion featuring Will Samson,  Vice President of Strategic Growth and Change for Inzet, a coaching and consulting firm in the Washington, DC area.

Whether you are in the US or elsewhere, the questions are relevant to our time. Strategic Doing gives us an important set of tools for working in new collaborations – but Will’s insights can help us shape what happens before we even sit down at the table to ask, “What could we do?” What is it that’s going on when a person chooses to be part of a community – any community? Why do we form communities, and how do they shape our thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors? And what happens when very different communities try to talk to one another?


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Liz Nilsen