Community networks such as Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook build social capital by getting people involved, connecting those with like ideas or mindsets and giving participants the ability to work with others. I was reminded of this during the weekend, via two completely opposite events.

The first was my birthday. I was overwhelmed by the number of well wishes on any given social channel. My timeline was inundated with family, childhood friends of 50+ years, healthcare and IT friends, business associates, neighbors, and the many people Ive met along my journey- most of whom I would never have met through traditional means. For this “only child” being part of a larger family is the best gift I have ever received.

The second way I was reminded of community this weekend was through shared grief. We came together on Twitter last night to mourn the passing of healthcare advocate, champion and “friend” Jess Jacobs. Jessica Jacobs crammed more “living” into her short 29 years than most people do in a lifetime. Her purpose was to make a difference in the lives of patients. Many of us knew her solely through her advocacy in the patient community. The tweetchat in her honor was aptly tagged #UnicornJess, and we were reminded of the bond of social influence, and how it brings us together as a community.

This shared experience is what defines community. We grow stronger through crisis. We become a voice for those who can no longer speak, and we carry their flame onward by weaving their conviction into our tapestry.

When it comes to measurement, it is not merely through logical means that we determine the impact of community. It is through involvement, improvement and empowerment that we share strength. Community is more than merely common characteristics. Like our immigrant families before us, we establish roots so that future generations can grow and succeed.

The impact of community is less about process and procedure and all about people working together to support and change the status quo. It is through this common denominator, this communal effort, that we meet our greatest potential as human beings. By working within our own communities we transform “what is” into “what can be”.

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