Communities, genuine communities, are rare. M. Scott Peck, MD, defines community as “a group of individuals who have learned how to communicate honestly with each other, whose relationships go deeper than their masks of composure and who have developed some significant commitment to rejoice together, mourn together, and to delight in each other, and make others conditions our own.” During the COVID crisis, many of us lost the ability to be in communities, or at least form and participate in communities, in the ways we had traditionally done. As a result, we are rethinking how we better form and facilitate communities.
The Community pillar of NSGC’s strategic plan is a lofty goal which requires us to think differently about how our organization designs diverse spaces to foster community. In the book The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace, Dr. Peck suggests that some of the most successful communities have no dues, no budgets, no physical building, yet have a thoughtful approach to their structure, leading to significant impact.
NSGC is working to develop a future-oriented strategy for its internal communities to keep up with the growth and change we have seen in our organization over the past decade. In a commitment to better understand and foster community, the recently formed Special Interest Group (SIG) Task Force, led by Sara Pirzadeh-Miller, will have the goal of recommending strategies to enhance the experience, engagement, satisfaction and sense of belonging within SIGs.
Key questions to be explored by the SIG Task Force include:
- What is the overarching purpose and collective objectives of SIGs within NSGC?
- Do we need a structural change in how SIGs are organized to better promote J.E.D.I. and a culture of belonging within NSGC?
- How do we provide spaces for additional communities to come together, yet stay connected to the broader NSGC community?
- How do we ensure a sustainable model of support for our internal communities that aligns with the resources of our organization?
The SIG Task Force will take three main approaches to answering these questions:
1) Landscape Assessment: Identify structures at work in other organizations that could provide a framework for NSGC’s SIGs in the context of our organizational commitment to J.E.D.I.
2) Community Assessment: Conduct a SIG-specific community assessment within NSGC to clarify NSGC member needs from any current/potential SIG or internal community as we move forward in our efforts to promote J.E.D.I. and member engagement.
3) Model Development: Develop 2-3 potential models for SIGs or other internal member communities within NSGC.
With thoughtful design, the groundwork will be created for a space to spark the opportunity to go beyond being a group but to actually create community within NSGC. But be warned, Dr. Peck states, “Some might conclude that life and community is easier and more comfortable than ordinary existence. It is not. But it is certainly more lively.” We look forward to next steps in this important endeavor and are excited for community interactions with you soon. Countdown to Nashville: six months!
Heather Zierhut (President) & Sara Pirzadeh-Miller (Chair of the SIG Task Force)
Members of the Special Interest Group Task Force include:
Jessica Balcom, Emily Edelman, Deanna Erwin, Arpita Neogi, Emily (Jo King) Partack, Larissa Peck, Forum Shah, Sara Riordan (Board Liaison)