Community Building Takes Creativity

The blog this week was written by George T. Martin, President of The Arcadia Institute. Community is made up of intangibles, such as relationships, trust, promises, and faith in ourselves and others. Part of community building is weaving such intangibles together, some or all at a time. Community also includes tangibles, like money, buildings, and streets.

The intangible and the tangible have to be present for community to exist. In the tasks of community building, we often have to create some of the elements, both the tangible and the intangible. We have to work with what we have and mix elements together in ways that support people, both physically and emotionally.

In the Institute’s work with people with disabilities creation involves far more than effort and good intentions, or even talent. Creativity is more than a display of insights, imagination, vision or even brilliance. Creativity usually draws upon these human qualities, but creation does not occur unless there are results. The results, such as relationships that bind people together, building trust, keeping promises, establishing faith, are all tasks that require effort, and in the field of human service it is sometimes difficult to know when you are accomplishing them. Sometimes we can only sense their presence. Nonetheless, such results are often true creations.

In the world of nonprofit organizations, and among people with disabilities who often have few material possessions, the intangibles can make a significant difference. The work on the intangibles is often the truest sign that community exists.