Inspiring Communities

As I continue work on the Art Of Community, I am providing many examples that illustrate the different concepts draped throughout the book. Many of these examples are of inspiring communities that are doing great work, are open and inclusive and have built a sense of passion and belonging in their members. Of course, I am by no means familiar with all communities, and I would love to hear your stories.

So, folks, which communities stand out in your mind as particularly inspiring when it comes to the following elements?

  • How productive they are.
  • How easy it is to get involved.
  • How exciting and enjoyable participation is.
  • How well the community is governed.

If you think of a community that you particularly admire, do share some comments on each of the above attributes. Also, to be clear: I am also really interested in non-tech communities. If you have comments about political groups, youth organisations, welfare communities etc, do share them too. :)

Thanks everyone!

12 Responses to “Inspiring Communities”

  1. Nick January 30, 2009 at 10:09 am #

    Well, I would have to put Smoothwall up there as a great candidate. The open source distro I have been a part of for six years now, and I have many friends from that project. The community is extremely friendly and very welcoming. It is easy to get involved, and the project is trying to make it easier by the week.

    This project is one of those that has a commercial arm, and sometimes there can be conflicts between the time of the developers who need to earn a living and the demands of the Open source, but that is minor.

    I have also started working with the Eeebuntu team, and I have found this project to also be very friendly and welcoming. As a young project though, we are still struggling to get the infrastructure into place, but this is happening at a very impressive pace.

    I would recommend that people just get involved, as there is so much more to the community than just writing code, managing servers and answering forum posts. I think the sign of a healthy community is a projects community sections on the forums, which should be full of fun posts and interesting topics , that have nothing to do with the main thrust of the project.

    It’s not all rosy, you do get some not very pleasant people turn up occasionally, but they are less than 1%, and you get use to it.

    Nick (Codfather)

  2. Marco January 30, 2009 at 10:41 am #

    The most impressive I know is – the German Ubuntu community. You get help very fast. They build a lot of documentation. They are great.

    But it is only what I see, a very small fraction of the picture.

  3. Blaise Alleyne January 30, 2009 at 12:59 pm #

    You should check out the community that both enabled and sprung from #hohoto in Toronto.

  4. Milo Casagrande January 30, 2009 at 1:43 pm #

    I was thinking about the Wikipedia community: it should be one of the biggest community around and a very active one. I used to contribute there (at the beginning) writing contents for my own language, but I could say that what inspired me (and still inspires me within the Ubuntu community) is the freedom of sharing information, knowledge and experiences and the possibility to help other people to reach that freedom. I think the Wikipedia community stands high in all the four points you listed.


  5. JoshPanter January 30, 2009 at 5:54 pm #

    Seriously? It’s the Ubuntu community at large. But I might say this because my local filter into that community is an awesome group of people at Ubuntu-MI. Greg is a great community leader and brings an awesome community focus with him, and some interesting perspectives, working with Creative Commons as he does. We have Jorge Castro, who’s a part of the Ubuntu community team, and the people that make up the group are very open and welcoming.

    There is a strong motivational force, and inclusive spirit in this group, a lot of excitement and experience and I’m pretty happy to be a part of it.

  6. Milo Casagrande January 30, 2009 at 7:29 pm #

    Not really related to “community” inspiration, but worth taking a look for “inspiration”:

  7. Ellis January 30, 2009 at 11:48 pm #

    Well I can’t leave this page without mentioning my own community vintagefaith ( Even though we are technically christian more than one of our main members is an atheist. I think that’s pretty inclusive. We’re often on the look out for ways to bless this fair city of Wolverhampton whether its by organising art shows or free gigs (with good musicians). It’s not always about evangelism , but it is always about sowing love into the wider community

  8. Leigh Blackall January 31, 2009 at 10:18 am #

    Thanks for blogging your progress, especially these content notes. I’m really looking forward to seeing the text as I’m hoping it will be useful in this course I facilitate about online communities. We just finished a course recently and each time we ask students to find and review an online community, and to see if they can identify a topic or event that particular community might be interested in having facilitated for them. These events come together to make the course’s mini conference. Its still a young course, and I’m continuously tweaking it, but its free and open to anyone, and hopefully the formal assessment and accreditation will be free this year. I hope you’ll check it out.. I hope our course can use your text as a primary reference some day.

  9. Jono Bacon January 31, 2009 at 9:11 pm #

    Thanks for the kind comments, Leigh. You have some really interesting content here and your course looks fascinating. I would love to talk more about it: could you drop me an email at jono AT jonobacon DOT org. :)

    I really hope you can use the Art Of Community as your textbook too. :)

  10. Jono Bacon January 31, 2009 at 9:12 pm #

    Thanks everyone for the great points. I am sure to check into them! :)

  11. Linda Rowe February 14, 2009 at 5:13 pm #

    Hi Jono, your book sounds very intriguing. The community I would like to share is the Houlton Maine Unitarian Church. This small town church is small but I’ve seen a steady growth in participation over the years. One of the things that strikes new members is our ability to communicate clearly and consciously. We’ve done this using Don Miguel Ruiz’ The Four Agreements as a basis as well as the Seven Principles of the Unitarian church and our own minister’s “4×4″ principles. And yet we don’t end up over processing or over analyzing our community. I think you really have to consider a spiritual/conscious component to business which allows for people to feel safe and therefore creative – open to share. This church has a social justice component to it as well. While i wouldn’t say wer were productive in an output sense, we are very productive in a satisfaction sense. People who find their way to the UU church feel as if they have found their “tribe”, even if they don’t believe exactly the same thing. It is a great thing to watch everyone work together. Thanks for letting me share. Wishing you the best with your book. Maybe I’ll do a layled church service on it when it comes out!

  12. Ellis February 19, 2009 at 11:55 pm #

    I also remember the collectivism community that was wolverhampton based (see link below). This may also relate to the governance issue… it was really easy to get involved as far as i remember- and everyone connected with it felt valued. Unfortunately it disintegrated when ‘natural’ regime change took place.

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