Community Building requires uniting diverse individuals, relationships, groups and organizations in common causes and collective identities.

  • Unity in diversity requires TRUST.
  • TRUST is built through Communitas.
  • We define Communitas as Unleashing the Masterpiece in the Individuals and the Collective-whole of the community, at the SAME TIME, through MUTUAL SACRIFICE.
  • Each Practice of Building Communitas consists of two synergistic skills: one serving the Individual and the other serving the Collective-whole.
  • For each Practice, the tension between serving the Individual and the Collective-whole can be kept in dynamic balance, or rhythm, through MUTUAL SACRIFICE.
  • It is important to note that applying these individual skills to help grow yourself (Individual-self) requires different approaches than applying these skills to help grow others (Individual-other). MUTUAL SACRIFICE comes into play not only between Individuals and the Collective-whole, but also between the Individual-self and the Individual-other.
  • The idea of MUTUAL SACRIFICE means we acknowledge that any success we enjoy in life comes from a combination of investments made into us by ourselves (Individual-self), other people (Individual-other) and the community as a whole (Collective-whole).
  • We must also acknowledge that we will never be able to fully repay the others or the community as a whole for what they have invested in us. No one is 100% self-made. As such, we all have an obligation to sacrifice some portion of our success to invest in BOTH other individuals in the community AND in the community as a whole.
  • On the flip-side, every failure any person experiences comes from a combination of failure of self, failure of others and failure of the community as a whole to invest what was needed to prevent the failure. No one has 100% ownership of their failures. Every failure is shared with other individuals and the community as a whole.


These Community Building Skills are being described in Foundation Order. This means, we list them from the bottom of the foundation to the top. The first Community Building Skill we list is the base of the foundation, and every successive Community Building Skill is built upon the ones that are underneath it.

  • Fellowship: Getting close enough to people to feel what they feel by engaging their individual stories.
  • Awareness: Seeking out and affirming perspectives of community experience that are different from our own.
  • Relationship: Intentionally choosing to suffer-with individuals; spending enough time with them to build authentic friendships.
  • Advocating: Accepting the responsibility to help identify and effectively communicate the burdens the community carries.
  • Nurturing: Empowering individuals to identify and brainstorm solutions to the problems obscuring their authentic selves.
  • Collaborating: Facilitating peer-to-peer problem-solving stakeholder discussions aimed at alleviating the burdens the community carries.
  • Discerning: Equipping individuals to choose the best course of action and the accountability necessary to follow through.
  • Innovating: Network within and between collaborations to build consensus around best opportunities for alleviating the community burdens.
  • Releasing: Encouraging individuals to enter new contexts that will expand and grow themselves and their influence on other individuals.
  • Pioneering: Platforming small-scale experiments resulting in feedback that produces intelligent pivots that become larger-scale initiatives.


In this section each of the Five Practices will be defined. Two syniergistic, Community Building Skills are defined under each of the Five Practices. One skill serving the Individual aspect of Communitas, The other synergistic skill serving the Collective-whole aspect of Communitas. Each Practice description will conclude with a description of how to create rhythm in the tension between the two Community Building Skills.

    Empathy: The capacity to put oneself in the position of another so you can understand and feel what they are feeling. Empathy involves authentically resonating with both positive and negative emotions like joy, celebration, happiness, pain, loss, grief and suffering. Sometimes it can be more difficult to authentically resonate with someone's joy than it is with someone's pain.

      • Community Building Skill (Individual Context): Fellowship
        • Creating and growing an intentional connection with someone until the connection is deep enough to feel what they are feeling.
        • MUTUAL SACRIFICE requires the intentional connection with people outside of our comfort zone, especially individuals outside of our own socioeconomic, political, religious or neighborhood contexts.
      • Community Building Skill (Collective-whole Context): Awareness
        • Intentionally seeking to resonate with the emotions of other people-groups.
        • MUTUAL SACRIFICE requires identification with the positive and negative emotions of people-groups outside of our own comfort-zone, especially of people-groups outside of our own socioeconomic, political, religious or neighborhood contexts.
      • Transformational Rhythm
        • Developing empathy for a people-group is more effective when you first cultivate empathy with one or more specific individuals from that people group.
        • When FELLOWSHIP with specific individuals is not possible, at least in the short term, AWARENESS requires entering into the world of the people group through engaging written, audio, video and live content created by that people group or for that people group.
        • Once one of the skills is developed, it is important to intentionally develop the other skill as quickly as possible to avoid becoming too out of balance one way or the other.

    Compassion:Growing your empathy to the point where you so identify with someone's emotions that you are willing to help carry their burdens even if doing so comes at a personal cost to yourself and those you care most about. At the same time, you are also willing to genuinely celebrate someone else's joys without bitterness or jealousy especially when you or those you care most about have not experienced that joy.

      • Community Building Skill (Individual Context): Relationship
        • Intentionally growing an authentic friendship with someone who you have begun to develop empathy with.
        • You are willing to sacrifice your own needs and desires to comfort and help your friend, especially when it comes to overcoming difficulties and experiencing greater fulfillment in life.
        • MUTUAL SACRIFICE requires you or those you care most about to incur a cost of some kind that will most likely never be fully paid back to you. This cost can be the investment of emotional energy, time, money and/or any other valuable resource.
      • Community Building Skill (Collective-whole Context): Advocating
        • Willingness to stand up and fight for a particular cause or right of a people-group that you have developed empathy with, especially for a cause or right that does not directly affect you.
        • MUTUAL SACRIFICE requires you to advocate for positions that may come at the expense of you or the people you care most about, without any promise of future compensation or payback.
      • Transformational Rhythm
        • The concept of mutual sacrifice implies that both the Individuals in the community, and the Collective-whole have ALREADY sacrificed for us. Therefore, we owe an obligation or debt to BOTH the Individuals in the Community AND to the Community as a Collective-whole.
        • In order to balance this obligation, we need to commit to investing in Individual RELATIONSHIPS that will cost us something and ADVOCATING for positions that will cost us something.
        • If we are unwilling to recognize the investments the Community has already made in us, we may be more reluctant to make investments into the Community that do not have a guaranteed, short-term payback.

    Ownership:Discovering, understanding and taking responsibility for what you as an individual have control over when it comes to taking action to Unleash the Masterpiece in yourself, others and the community as a whole. In the community context, ownership requires translating every aspect of individual control over self and others into definitive, collective, holistic actions.

      • Community Building Skill (Individual Context): Nurturing
        • Intentional investment of mirroring, transparency vulnerability and accountability into the Individual-other to increase self awareness and the discernment necessary to build-up areas of weakness and more fully leverage strengths.
        • From the perspective of growing your Individual-self, this means developing relationships with those willing to invest in you and intentionally choosing to receive this investment.
      • Community Building Skill (Collective-whole Context): Collaborating
        • Issues in the Collective-whole of the Community are best identified and addressed in robust collaborations that include the key stakeholders that are directly impacted by the issues, regardless of their perceived rank or qualifications.
        • The collaborations must be treated as peer-to-peer with a flat hierarchical organization that gives everyone equal opportunity to contribute in an environment of psychological safety.
      • Transformational Rhythm
        • Nurturing calls forth the Masterpiece that is already inside of the Individual. This is pretty straightforward.
        • True collaboration of equals, in equal measure, calls forth the Masterpiece of the Collective-whole, which is ALWAYS GREATER-THAN the sum of the Individual Masterpieces.
        • This GREATER-THAN is the primary ASSET of the community, but can be very difficult to access, especially in a context where some Individuals are thought of as contributing more to the whole than others.
        • Great care must be taken to steward the perspective of the quiet, passive Individuals in order to unleash the GREATER-THAN Masterpiece of the Collective-whole.
        • So-called High Capacity Leaders can shift their focus to encouraging other Individuals to speak and be understood.

    Realization: Deciding which actions related to individual control and collective control are worth investing in as experiments and in what order. Then defining criteria to evaluate whether investment in a particular experiment should continue or be moved to the next experiment in priority order.

      • Community Building Skill (Individual Context): Discerning
        • Coming alongside individuals to help them select and prioritize the specific actions (experiments) will result in the most transformation in the most needed areas of their lives.
        • This includes coming up with objective criteria that can be used to measure the success of the experiments and decide when it is time to revisit the current experiment or move onto the next one.
      • Community Building Skill (Collective-whole Context): Innovating
        • Choosing key players from related collaborations to analyze the outcomes of the collaboration and hone them into holistic activities designed to achieve transformation in a particular context, taking an agile/iterative approach.
        • The end result is a list of transformational experiments in priority order. Highest priority experiments have the best balance between risk and reward.
      • Transformational Rhythm
        • Discerning is primarily an internal process that can be catalyzed and improved through transparency, vulnerability and accountability with a small group of close friends.
        • Innovating is at peak effectiveness when it engages the GREATER-THAN of the Collective-whole.
        • The difficulty lies in accessing this GREATER-THAN which does not lie in any one Individual, but in the interactions between Individuals.
        • True Innovation of the Collective-whole of a community is captured through facilitating meaningful interactions in collaboration, and guiding those interactions to expose real Innovation.
        • Each Collaboration will be unique, and it requires close attention and finely-tuned listening to properly facilitate the collaboration and tease out the Innovation.

    Commissioning:Defining the who, what, when and where of the agile/iterative execution and evaluation of the agreed upon individual and collective transformational experiments. The first four practices build trust between individuals and the collective-whole. This final practice is about fully relying on this trust to create transformation in both the individuals and the collective-whole.

      • Community Building Skill (Individual Context): Releasing
        • Succession planning is usually thought of as a decades-long process of finding a replacement for charismatic, rock-star leaders.
        • The skill of Releasing requires a continually flowing mantle of leadership that prevents individuals from becoming rock-stars and celebrities in the first place.
        • Leadership should be fluid and spread out among many if not all Individuals of a Collective-whole, as opposed to being concentrated in a select few.
      • Community Building Skill (Collective-whole Context): Pioneering
        • Commissioning a particular group from the Collective-whole to perform the agile/iterative execution of the agreed upon collective transformational experiments, and report back on the predefined criteria.
        • The desired result is a more robust experiment that can be shared, customized and repeated in other collective contexts.
      • Transformational Rhythm
        • Releasing Individuals allows their influence to grow, and dramatically reduces the risk of the often catastrophic results of being over-dependent on a celebrity leader.
        • Commissioning groups to Pioneer innovative experiments to address social issues allows the influence of the COMMUNITY to grow BOTH within the Community AND externally in other Communities.
        • The mechanics of these two skills are very different in their implementation but create similar results - the sustainable spread of Individual and Collective transformation.
        • Both have to be maintained in a dynamic, Transformational Rhythm to produce the maximum transformation in both the Individuals and the Collective-whole.