what does community look like?

I am the centre of my universe!

“I no longer see community as a safe place, or as a specific structure. I think of it as an attitude and a process. It is understanding and practicing interdependence, recognizing that we need one another for everything that makes life worthwhile and even for survival itself.” – Arthur Gladstone

I an attempt to understand what community looks like and means to me, I drew this little diagram*. In the middle: me! And radiating out are my various intersecting and overlapping communities, and the people who make them.

My yoga community is bunched up in the bottom part ~ it’s made up of rad’a (the space where I teach, in the former ascent headquarters), the Montréal Anusara crew, Yasodhara Ashram (where I lived and studied for 2 years) and “Mtl yogis” (which refers to other yogi friends in town who don’t fit in the previous categories). In reality, these spheres intersect and overlap, rather than function independently.  “Former ascent staff,” my beloved friends and co-workers at the magazine, are tangental to my yoga scene ~ and still, happily, part of my life. “MEM yoga” is another teaching space, at the Mile End Mission in my neighbourhood.

I’ve drawn a line from “MEM yoga” to a big cluster in the top corner, which represents my physical neighbourhood, Mile End. Most of my social and community action happens in my lively ‘hood, and it plays a big role in my life. Definitely, my sense of belonging and connection comes from my location. It’s the little things, like bumping into people at the cafe or the fruiterie, which create feelings of community on a daily basis.

Up in the top left is my blog, and the joyous little online community that has sprung up around it’s all yoga, baby. The participators and active commentors such as Linda-sama, Bob WEcoYogini and Montréal yogi/blogger Adriana (who I’ve never even met in RL, even though she lives just a few blocks from me) are the heart of this community. And spiraling out from there are the “global internet yogis,” who stop by on their interweb meanderings (I know you’re out there, thanks to Google Analytics!).

Other aspects of my community world are my family and hometown friends in BC, my boyfriend, my knitter friends, my pan-Canadian writing friends ~ and my cats! Now that I am a Person-Who-Works-From-Home, my cats Qyogi and Kaiser are my co-workers (and I’m glad they’re not my employees, because they’re rather lazy and I’d have to fire them). They’ve taught me so much about interdependence (and love, and service, and fun), and they make my life, my single apartment-dwelling urban life, more worthwhile and enjoyable.

* Adapted from Carolyn Shaffer’s book, Creating Community Anywhere: Finding Support and Connection in a Fragmented World.

  1. HEHE I could see me on your diagram!!! FUN 🙂

    What a cool exercise… community is so important. It’s weird how you meet people online, feel like you really know them but you’ve never actually met eh?

  2. I totally like the idea of community as a process…that quote is great! Great post again! (from your pan-Canadian writing friend / BC friend)!

    • haha! you can see UVic way over on the right. but now i’d have to draw a dotted line from there to my blog, b/c you’ve crossed over!

  3. I love this diagram. What an interesting way to map out your “world”.

    I’m much more of a social hermit than you are, a very gregarious hermit, however, as hermits go. (I actually really enjoy and am good with people when I have the occasion to interact. It’s just that given choice I almost alway chose solitude or time with Jane alone.)

    If I drew a diagram like this, it would have Jane and me in a big heart box in the middle (I would try to resist the urge to draw one of those arrows through it, although I do that when I draw them just for her.)

    Then in the other boxes surrounding that center of my universe, I would have my 90-year old Dad, who lives in a senior home overlooking Lake Michigan here in Milwaukee, my Yoga life (=mostly reading, thinking and blogging, but also breathing meditating, and some asana), tennis, guitar, my three sisters, my daughter and two sons. I have a lot of accumulated friends, but I never see them unless there is a big life event. Jane spends a lot of time with the neighbors. I don’t really know them very well, being a hermit and all.

    Hmmm, I guess your blog here got me thinking about my own community chart before I even realized it was happening. Now that’s a good blog!

    Bob Weisenberg

  4. thank you so much for saying that I’m part of the heart of your community!

    you have no idea how that makes me feel because the phrase “yoga community” makes me gag. really. because — and this is in MY experience, no one else’s — yogis talk a lot about it but when it comes down to it, it’s all talk.

    I’ve written a lot about my experiences with the two yoga studio owners I taught for and it ain’t pretty. I have found MUCH MORE support in the global yoga community via my blog than I EVER have in my own backyard.

    love and hugs, thankachi (which is Tamil for “younger sister”)

  5. p.s. so I think that’s why my astrologer has always told me that I need to find my own tribe! and I did…just not where I live….

  6. Thanks for sharing, Roseanne. I might check out that book.

  7. Bob: “gregarious hermit,” I love it! I also love that you started verbalizing your community diagram without even realizing it. I really suggest that you try drawing it ~ it makes such a different to see your world on paper. Also, I’m so inspired by your beautiful relationship with your wife. Lovely!

    Linda: you already know that I wanna be in your tribe ~ and I guess i virtually already am! I hear what you’re saying about the “yogi talk” about community…

    Brooks: please do check out the book! I hope you enjoy it…

  8. I truly love this diagram. Finding community, and fitting in, have been struggles for me … and it has definitely been an issue that’s on my mind. I will try making my own diagram to see if I can identify my community, its intersections and connections …. thanks so much for this post!!!