Almost two years ago, we published a response to the Orlando, Florida shooting emphasizing how communities like ours help to end hate.
Community interaction: it’s what makes coworking so special. The industry will change a lot in coming years, but community will always at the center of what we do.
I’d like to revisit that theme again today, with a look at how belonging to a community makes us better people. Here are three hallmarks of community experience:
Communities teach us tolerance.
All of our members are independent workers on some level, and they join Groundwork! because they want to belong to a community. That’s pretty much where the similarities end. We get to work alongside people who we may not agree with on all viewpoints. And this is a beautiful thing.
In an increasingly polarized world, listening to people we don’t agree with is perhaps the most important thing we can do.
Respecting people we don’t agree with is crucial.
Actually liking people we disagree with? Revolutionary.
We get to practice all this, and more, in our coworking community.
We learn to share.
Sharing is one of those big lessons in preschool and kindergarten, but somewhere along the journey to adulthood many of us forget how to share. I’ll be the first to admit to hiding my shampoo and soap in college because my roommate never bought his own. In retrospect, a simple conversation would have sufficed.
One of the challenges of coworking is the shared resources: conference rooms, printer, refrigerator… the list goes on. This challenge is our big opportunity. By learning to share our resources in a small office environment we can become more generous, giving, and tolerant in other areas of our lives.
We develop a stronger sense of self.
When I first left the country and landed in Chile, I finally understood what it meant to be born and raised in the United States. Surrounded by a different culture, I could see my unapologetic independence, my capitalist work-ethic, my tendency to over-consume and waste, and other features of my cultural upbringing loud and clear.
Over time, I let go of the cultural things that stopped serving me. I learned to waste a lot less. I learned to relax about my personal space. And I learned to slow down. But I also became stronger and more firm in the things that truly mattered to me: my independence and work ethic are alive and well, if not a bit softer and more flexible.
I worry that many of us lack such opportunities in our current living situation. We travel from the digital echo-chambers of social media to our real life social circles that are much the same.
We need to be surrounded by strangers to teach us what is truly worth holding onto and what we need to let go. I truly believe that this form of social interaction will save us.
So there you have it: tolerance, sharing, self-actualization. Three pillars of being a good person. Three things we need to nourish, build up, and encourage as much as we can. The way to do it? Engage in a community, and even more importantly, talk to the people in that community who are the least likely to become your friends. Those are the relationships that will push you to grow.