Author Posts

March 1, 2017 at 9:56 am


Please take a moment to read the article at the link provided and think about what community means to you in your work and how we can best help people connect. Let’s have a discussion and share our learning.

“…the meaning of community is complex. And, unfortunately, insufficient understanding of what a community is and its role in the lives of people in diverse societies has led to the downfall of many well-intended “community” efforts.”

March 2, 2017 at 10:46 am

For those of you who have read the article, here are some questions that I thought could start our conversation

What are your key “takeaways”?

How might you use it?

How do the PCT skills help?

Are additional skills needed?  Among the additional skill which do you think are the most helpful?

Michael Smull



March 2, 2017 at 11:18 am

Download version of article is posted under Docs.

March 8, 2017 at 4:13 pm

I’m intrigued by the reference that the author makes to the “feeling of community comes from shared experiences and a sense of—not necessarily the actual experience of—shared history. As a result, people know who is and isn’t part of their community. This feeling is fundamental to human existence.” It makes me think about a notion of community as something that someone can claim as far as membership goes but also where there is a sense of mutuality in being accepted. It is true that “it’s about people” but when both the sense of and the actual experience of history is one of exile and marginalization, the importance of presence in those spaces and contexts is critical to the healing of community.

March 9, 2017 at 11:47 am

I loved the idea of communities being “nested” within other communities.  Some time ago I was teaching the Service to Community Life Continuum, and what’s meant by “included in community.”  I’ve always felt we (health & human services) have done the word “community” a disservice and I want to be sure learners understand what it means to truly be included in community as opposed to “visiting the community.”  Someone in the room suggested we were really talking about “pockets of community”.  I shamelessly stole that idea and have been using it ever since.  Examples I give – My 85 year old Mom is active in the quilting community of N. Houston; if she doesn’t show up at the Sat. morning “show and tell” meeting where all the quilters take turns showing off their work and admiring others’, people will be calling her on Sat. afternoon to say they missed her there.  My sister in Portland is a member of the geocaching community; she is known (and revered for her 7000! finds!) by her geocacher user name rather than her real name.  She can belong to any geocaching community in the world by virtue of her geocacher profile.  I’m a member of the cycling community; even if I’m in a different town than my own I can show up at a cycling event and fit in to the community by virtue of a shared knowledge & set of principles (and the right clothing & equipment).

This truly is (in my mind) the harder work at hand…helping people move from a good paid life to a community life   Thanks for getting this conversation started, Mike.

April 14, 2017 at 7:18 pm

Like Roy, I resonated with the power of a shared sense (not experience) of history – I recently hired a new team member and after 3 days on the job, I said, “You’re like an old shoe, in all the best ways!” She laughed, but I meant it with the utmost respect. I knew instantly she was someone with whom I would be comfortable, had shared values, could be myself, and could rely on in good and challenging times. I could tell that our entire team felt at ease with her as if she had been with us forever – a shared “sense” of history.

How did person centered thinking skills help? When interviewing, I really focused on values and underlying character – finding out what mattered most to the person through my choice of questions and the simple act of listening to the story behind her story.  When I asked her to describe a time when she demonstrated care and concern for her colleagues, she told me about a time when, without being asked, she brought her colleague a cup of tea…because she “was having a challenging day.”  In one sentence, she told me she was caring, warm, friendly, perceptive, and someone who takes initiative.  She’s a star on my team and I’ve let her know that she has quickly become the “hub” of our work community.

In this way, as we learn what matters most to others, we can support them find places in their communities where their values are shared, not just their interests.