Community Building is a Lot like Running

2020-02-01
By: Alan Blackshaw
Posted in: Reflections and Ideas

I haven’t always been a runner. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t so long ago that going for a run was the last thing on my mind. Now I regularly run 5kms two or three times a week.

When I first started it was daunting. I could only run a short distance before I was out of breath and had to stop. To help me I downloaded a phone app so I could gradually work up to 5kms. It took time and was hard work, both physically and mentally. My muscles hurt, my mind told me I couldn’t do it and I felt out of place. But over time my muscles have adjusted and my body works as one unit. My mind can still be an obstacle but not in the way it used to be. I now feel totally comfortable around other runners.
Before I go for a run I prepare myself. I decide when I’m going out, choose what I’m going to wear and plan my route. It changes on a regular basis. Sometimes I plan something different as the next challenge or just to get myself out of a rut.

There are so many parallels to Community Building.

Although, we are social beings it takes a bit of focus to be a community builder. Like starting a running regime it can be daunting. Where do you start? What do you want to do? You might be able to see the problems or what you want to achieve but getting there is the hard thing. But like running it is about taking it in small segments. Distribute a flyer, call a meeting, talk about what you want to achieve with others, read about what others have done. It is a creative process and sometimes you just need to build those creative muscles up. At first you might feel like you are stumbling or that you have bitten off more than you can chew but overtime you will find that you make connections with others who want to see the same things happen. Just do the small things first. Plant a garden on the nature strip/verge, start a facebook page, have a few neighbours over for a BBQ.

Like running the creative ideas, small activities, meeting others, working together all starts to fall into place. The “collective body” starts working together. And like planning a run you start to plan what you want to do what you want to achieve, plan some challenging activities and before you know it you are starting to build a community.

This blog originally appeared at www.herdingtogether.com

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Alan Blackshaw
About Alan Blackshaw
I am a community builder working from an Assets Based Community Development (ABCD) perspective. I have spent my career working to serve and build community. I have experience as an educator, public servant, disability support worker, in local government and in community development both as a frontline worker and as a manager of a team of community development workers. With over 30 years experience in working with the community, the last 16 in local government, I have experience in building community from the grassroots up. I ams now continuing to serve the community by working to create strong communities and organisations. At the core of my practice are social justice principles.
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