Insights from the Pure House Community
Community emerges one friendship at a time. Its most vivid manifestations are spontaneous and cannot be planned. Its emergence is entirely voluntary.
These are some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my years experimenting with community organizing through our co-living project, which eventually grew into a vibrant social enterprise called Pure House.
Despite all my attempts to facilitate communal activities and encourage the use of centralized communication platforms, the most inspiring manifestations emerged without my knowledge and via private communications among friends. As I was a part of this community of friends, sometimes I was lucky enough to be invited to these spontaneous gatherings.
What I learned is that community emerges freely. The interweaving web of friendships that we call community have no clearly defined boundaries. That said, as a friend, the greatest gift I offer is connecting kindred spirits with one another. Within the context of Pure House, the other essential ingredient are the increased points of collision that occur when people live (and work) in proximity to one another. When friendships are built upon common interests and/or shared values within physical proximity to one another, they tend to flourish. And when physical space is designed to promote physical interaction, those friendships tend to meld into spontaneously engagements that can be defined as communal experiences.
Having recently moved back to Rio de Janeiro, I’m currently witnessing our friendships weave into a vibrant community where new friendships seem to be igniting all around us. It’s all happening so fast. As the lifestyle here is highly social, I’m realizing the important of space and time. When we have time and space to dedicate to our friendships, they tend to thrive.
In the end, what I can say for certain is that authenticity and intent are critical factors in the emergence of any community. I was recently asked the difference between community and networks. As I see it, a network is built for the benefit of self whereas community emerges for the benefit of the collective. In this light, much of what we see today being called community are actually networks being built for the financial and/or personal interests of an individual or specific entity. To be clear, for community to emerge, self-interest cannot be present. This will continually be a challenge for profit-driven attempts to leverage community, as commonly seen in the emergent co-living movement.