The Woodwide Web Teaches Us About Communities
Communities will be far more relevant to our wellbeing in the future. And, we have yet to scratch the surface in understanding what is needed to be in community.
Futurist and friend Ross Dawson writes, “Your focus should be not on yourself, but in bringing the networks to life around you. Enabling the immensely valuable connections that otherwise would be gaps lost opportunities for human connection and value creation.”
The underground networks of plants, trees and fungi under our feet can connect as a supportive network and web. German forester Peter Wohlleben named this network the “Woodwide Web.” It is through the mycelium network (fungi) that trees “communicate.” Perhaps it’s time for humans to build the next generation communities that connect us in more meaningful and intelligent ways; as creators?
But it takes effort, different thinking and intention to do so. Like anything in life. When we’re able to create thriving communities, they can then become the heartbeat of society.
Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon
Today, everything is based on who we know. Six Degrees of Hollywood is a game based on the “six degrees of separation” made famous by Kevin Bacon. The premise is that any two people on Earth are six or fewer acquaintance links apart. The game challenged to find the shortest path between any two actors through their work in film. It also plants the belief that being celebrated and having a large network is important in life.
We can read many studies on addiction to social networks, likes and followers. And also, the highs and low of becoming an influencer or a Youtube star. But this is just more of the same nonsense that is not sustainable. Maybe it’s an addiction in itself?
When do we simply have enough followers and likes? And despite the large networks and connections, what is the quality of our relationships? And why do we choose to blame technology when we have an opportunity to make choices? Do we blame the lightbulb for working 24/7? Is networking really enough moving forward?
Making Our Way to Communities
Communities have been here since the beginning of time. We just forgot.
But we still don’t have true social networks or many thriving communities in the world because most connections are still made through people we know. And most of the platforms are built on advertising models that commoditize the consumers and users. There are no deep divides between them and us in true communities.
And wait until we experience what’s coming in the next few years with the changes in social media platforms, which will simply further meet the needs of corporations; not people.
There are a zillion articles, books, courses and gurus on how to build networks. When we log on to LinkedIn, we experience their teachings as we sort through the barrage of people who want to connect; mostly to sell us something. Many tell us how they have our answers but never ask us anything. But an increasingly number of us are focused on value creation and don’t want to be seen as merely users or pitched.
Architecting Communities Based on Needs
There is no formula to building a community apart from listening to our hearts and trusting ourselves to experiment. Gathering and bringing people together in community needs to be seen as an opportunity for true innovation. And communities are not just about posting and sharing information. So many websites today have a community button and when we click on it, we are asked to send a private message. This is not community.
Maybe this century is calling us to go back to a blank canvass and architect the communities we truly need for our times?
Measuring success based on likes or followers does not set the foundation for thriving communities. It takes true dialogue, connection and collaboration that often makes us uncomfortable to deeply connect.
Is there a community you are creating or dreaming of creating?
Trust is an ally.
More on why communities are foundational to our existence in Part II, which will be written in real time tomorrow. Courageous trekking in the meantime …