How might we put ‘unity’ back in community?

By dpoig Feb 7, 2024

Communities are the foundation of our society, and their strength and success lie in the unity of its members. Yet, often at the heart of so many communities is disunity. As a community coach, I collaborate with rural leaders to build local capacity and engage community members in working on local priorities so their community […]

Communities are the foundation of our society, and their strength and success lie in the unity of its members. Yet, often at the heart of so many communities is disunity.

As a community coach, I collaborate with rural leaders to build local capacity and engage community members in working on local priorities so their community can thrive. One of the most common topics that comes up as the groups are planning for future outcomes is their desire for unity with other community leaders. They recognize disunity as a polarizing barrier to their success as they strive to engage other individuals, organizations, or elected officials in creating a thriving community. When addressing disunity, one challenge of being a community coach is feeling the need to “fix it” because as an outsider it’s often easier for me to recognize those blind spots. However, my role is to empower individual leaders to own their failures and create solutions for putting unity back into the community.

What causes divisiveness?

Cowboy re-enactment group the Dog Creek Gunfighters square off for a staged fight in downtown Alva.

Do personal disagreements turn into community standoffs? Photo by Becky McCray

So, what is it that brings disunity to a community? Below is a list of some common culprits:

  • Lack of trust between leaders and community members
  • Resistance to change
  • Leadership immaturity
  • No defined purpose or vision
  • Inconsistency in meetings
  • Unfulfilled promises
  • Competition for resources or power
  • Unclear communication methods
  • Self-centered interests
  • Burnout and stress
  • Allowing events to railroad relationships

To address disunity as a polarizing barrier to developing a thriving community, it’s essential to name the specific causes at play from the list above and implement strategies to mitigate them. Below is a list of improvements that can be made by individuals, organizations, or elected officials to find more unity in their community:

Open Communication

The foundation of any united community is open and honest communication. Offer encouragement and opportunities f

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