I’ve been working with some folks on the concepts of and around generosity communities. When I explore this concept, I discover that there are some fundamental questions about the premise for a generosity community that I think need to be looked at. This is the working list of questions that I’ve come up with so far that I believe are important for each participant of any community, not just a generosity community, to explore by themselves and in community groups:
- What do I value about the other person? What do I value about myself?
- When do I “invest” in the other person? When do I invest in myself?
- Does the other person feel valued? Do I feel valued?
- What prevents me from valuing myself and others?
- What are the explicit relationships of authority between us?
- What are the implicit relationships of authority between us resulting from our life experiences (parenting, prior relationships, social mores, etc.)?
- How do these relationships of authority influence how we express our needs and hear the needs of others?
- In what ways do I feel wealthy?
- In what ways do I feel impoverished?
- When do I feel out of balance with each other people?
- How do I address that imbalance currently?
- How would I, in the future, like to address imbalance?
- Do I feel “in healthy movement” with the community?
- Do I feel “the illness of being stuck” with the community?
- Where am I, and what is needed?
- How do I get out of the way of myself?
Body / Soul / Spirit
- Body: What is the physical expression of my community? For example, meeting places, places where people live, the neighborhood, etc.
- Soul: What are the qualities of my community? For example, what are the members passionate about and how is this expressed in the “interests” of the community? What does community value and what does it disdain?
- Spirit: How do I describe the identity of the community? What is its mission statement, its “folk soul”? (From the psychology dictionary: “a group’s perpetual and fundamental features, morals, norms and values that can’t be explained solely in terms of characteristics of each member.”)
How can I articulate a spiritually-based value system in such a way that it is capable of entering into a dialog with other conventional value-based systems? This is an important question for “interfacing” something like a generosity community with, for example, monetary-valuation systems (banks, businesses, the stock market, Wall Street, etc.)
We can replace the words “person”, “people”, “community” with other concepts: “partner”, “business”, “co-worker”, “boss”, “child”, and so forth. These questions are not limited to our relationship with a generosity community but are valuable whenever we are in relationship with something or someone else.
Also, we have many relationships with people and entities (work place, church, charity, grocery store, etc) based on the context of our needs. What is still a question for me, when I look at the trends of generosity communities, Local Investment Opportunity Networks, income pooling, and crowdfunding, is that these all express the need to fill a void that people are experiencing. I am still unclear on what exactly that void is that isn’t being filled by our current social structures and how to clearly articulate that void in an objective and concise way. That will be the topic of further investigation and discussion.