Juha-Matti Santala
Community Builder. Dreamer. Adventurer.

Why do good communities thrive?

Quick note of terms used: I use the term professional common and professional to refer to whatever topic your community revolves around. It does not have to be professional as in work or business.

Recently I’ve been talking a lot with different people about communities, community management and different aspects related to it. One of the key differences in how people view communities is what I call professional-leisure divide. (I hope one day I’ll have a better word for it.)

Pretty much everyone is on the same page when we talk about professional common. People join a community for the core reason that community exists: whether it is being a fan of a certain sports team, entrepreneurship, learning new technology, the passion for gardening or just living in the same location.

If a community does not have that focus, it most probably will not live or even really get started. Most of your activities in the community revolve around this: watching the game together, doing workshops or sharing tips of the best ways to grow turnips.

However, my observation is that the crucial part of a thriving and successful community has to do with leisure common. Members of the community coming together to do non-professional things together. Connection between people can be started while doing the professional thing but they develop when doing things that you do in your normal life: going out for dinner, playing games, watching movies, going for a hike — whatever the people in your community love to do.

It also helps people to be more relaxed, more efficient and more productive in their communities because usually being with people outside the professional setting lowers tension and helps you avoid assumptions and misunderstandings in communication.

Organizing leisure common activities can easily seem as waste of resources but neglecting it hurts in a long-term. I’ve been a member in communities that have lived long beyond the end of the professional common. That’s a success in my books. Because communities are first and foremost about people, not things.

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