Here at Random Acts, we encourage and fund individuals performing random acts of kindness in their community. We love the idea of community-based kindness so much, we made our #GetKind theme for July and August “creating community.” But what does community mean? What makes a community? And where can you find one?
What is Community?
While there are many ways to describe a community, the basic definition given by the Cambridge Dictionary is “the people living in one particular area or people who are considered as a unit because of their common interests, social group, or nationality.” Fabian Pfortmüller, the author of @CommunityCanvas, proposes the definition of community could use an update. He suggests a key element of community is that members care about one another, which creates trust. This trust establishes relationships between community members that allow for collaboration and fuels motivation.
The Impact of Online Communities
Earlier this year, 2021, the GovLab at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering released a report titled “The Power of Virtual Communities.” In it, they explore the impact that online communities can have on social and political life. They also take a look at how these online groups can create opportunities for people to build communities they otherwise would not have access to in the physical world. They referenced a global survey conducted by YouGov of 15,000 current members of online and in-person communities in 15 countries. The survey found that the majority of participants in 11 of those 15 countries said: “the most meaningful communities to which they belong are primarily online.” This speaks to the power these online groups have to establish meaningful communities and strong relationships between their members.
An article by Berkley University’s Greater Good Magazine examines “How Kindness Spreads in a Community.” They discuss a new analysis of a variety of studies with data collected over decades that investigates how kindness, when observed, inspires people to perform their own acts of kindness. “The results suggest that our acts of kindness and generosity, online or offline, can have meaningful ripple effects in our communities.” Seeing results like these helps us understand how communities like Random Acts can be so impactful!
Where Do We Find Communities?
Communities can spring up anywhere people gather: in your neighborhood, at school, at work, and especially online. Many popular websites focus on forming communities and hosting groups for like-minded people. A community, in real space or online, can start with just one person seeking others who share their passions, ideas, or experiences and can grow to millions of members. When these online communities have members who care about one another, they can be a support network to people all over the world and help give a voice to those who need to be heard. Communities where kindness flourishes create a more inclusive world with space for everyone.
Want to Connect with Our Community?
If you would like to connect with Random Acts, Regional Representatives would love to help you find kindness opportunities in your community. As always, thank you for supporting our mission to spread kindness and compassion!