At the Intersection of Community and Self

I have a story to tell. It’s about me. It could be funny. It might be sad. It’s likely ridiculous, though there is slim possibility that it is profound.

I always tell this story to people I meet because I want them to know who I am. I don’t want others to get the wrong idea about me. I want to create my narrative.

A skeptical person might ask, after hearing it, “Is that true?” A non-critical person, might say, “Whoa, that’s cool!” On the other hand, someone might have no reaction at all.

The point is, I have, at least partially or temporarily, interdicted the creation of someone else’s opinion.

As communities, and by that I mean all the socio-,politico-, religio-, and whatever-io- groups to which we belong, we have stories about ourselves. Somewhat like five-minute elevator speeches, they flow out of us as explanation of who our group is, what we believe, and where we think we are going. They are often closely held beliefs and powerful motivators of our actions.

They are also, most often, just plain wrong.

Maybe wrong is wrong. Like all stories told over time, they have a life of their own. We stop being critical of them because we have so much invested in their being right. So, we aren’t wrong exactly, we just stopped looking in the mirror objectively and now just read from the script we created long ago.

The other day, after a long meeting, my partner, Parker, and I were treating ourselves to the IPAs we so richly deserved after such hard work. In the course of the conversation that followed, Parker made the observation, “Isn’t it amazing how right we are about the world and how wrong everyone else is.” We laughed of course, in our smug self-deprecating way, but in retrospect, even while mocking ourselves, we need to always be clear: believing our story to be true does not make it true.

This is the second of two articles that are leading the blog posts for the site for our new business, A Neighborhood Place. You can get a good idea of what we are about from the content of the site, but to put it succinctly, it is our intention to work with communities to create new stories of connection and life.

These new stories are going to arise in neighborhood places created by and for the communities they serve. They will be places of authenticity: open and welcoming spaces for the discovery and retelling of new narratives.

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