We recently hosted a call with Meg Wheatley, who has been doing work at the intersection of community and social impact for many years.
She reminded us of a beautiful question that communities can ask as they start out: What is possible here and who cares?
I had read about this question before in a different context, but forgotten about it. Coming back to it, I found it an incredibly powerful question for any community to ask, because it combines two crucial elements.
What is possible here
- This question invites into deep listening and collective dreaming. Instead of looking to a leader to provide a mission statement, we look to each other. We start attuning to each other.
- It has a positive spin to it. It doesn’t ask: What’s the problem we are trying to solve. Similarly to Asset Based Community Development, it assumes that every community has many (often hidden) assets and gifts that reveal itself as we come more into relationship with each other.
- Behind the question is an assumption for positive change: By us coming together and being in deeper relationship, something good can happen that otherwise wouldn’t.
- Traditional questions around purpose, such as “why do we exist” feel more abstract and can be hard to answer, especially for young groups which often don’t quite know.
- The question would be incomplete without this second part.
- When groups dissociate their ideas and dreams from who drives them forward, they enter a dangerous territory: consumer behavior. People have no trouble coming up with great ideas, but the question “who cares” encourages co-ownership. Is this just an idea or is this something we actually care about and want to drive forward?
- This encourages co-creation by inviting people to take on responsibility and roles.
This is a question that deserves to be revisited regularly. As the community members individually continue to evolve, the collective answer to these questions will evolve, too.