Caleb Winebrenner's Reviews > Deepening Community: Finding Joy Together in Chaotic Times

Deepening Community by Paul Born
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it was amazing
bookshelves: resources-for-storytellers
Recommended for: educators, storytellers, activists

Marcus Aurelius said, “Fellowship is what we were made for.” Human connection and community are basic needs for our survival, and especially our flourishing. Ironically, in our fragmented and digitally-interfaced society, “community” has become a buzzword. Amid the white noise, Paul Born’s Deepening Community: Finding Joy Together in Chaotic Times cuts through that noise with clarity, warmth, and compassion. We talk so much about community, Born claims, because so many of us wish to have more and better experiences of it.

He writes, “Why are so many of us finding it difficult to deepen our experience of community? What do we need to do? Where do we find the energy for the effort required to deepen our experience? The questions all of us face are many: Will we throw up our hands in the face of complexity and settle for shallow community? Or will we join hands together to choose, to create, deep community?” (p. 45).

I like that turn of phrase, “deepening community.” Communities can be built (by groups of planners) or developed (by activists and social workers), but they are deepened and engaged, ultimately, by its own citizens. There are four cornerstone processes to deepening community. For me, this is where the book really shines, because they are all things that we all are already doing. These four are:
- Sharing Our Stories
- Enjoying One Another
- Caring for One Another
- Working Together for a Better World

In other words, the sharing of who we are and where we come from, in a story, leads to enjoying each other’s company, supporting each other when needs arise, and then ultimately turning outward to care for others as well. The form a web of little acts of kindness and vulnerability which invest us more deeply in our neighbors, friends, and fellow people. Born calls the giving-and-receiving relationships in communities “restoring our humanity” (p. 126). Indeed, it seems to me, after reading Born’s book, that to deepen our lives in community and to restore our humanity are the same thing. Furthermore, the principles behind those acts of reciprocity and kindness acknowledge the natural and spiritual aspects of community. It is not something we simply do, but rather community is a choice which can ultimately shape who we are.

As for me, I got into storytelling in part because it is how I imagine a better world, whether as an educator, an artist, or a citizen. Born’s book has not just claimed a spot on my shelf, but his understanding of community has woven its way into my thinking about life as a citizen-artist. For anyone else who engages in community as a dimension of their work in the world, I highly recommend this book. When you have read it, then ask yourself, “What can I do to deepen my community?”
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
May 1, 2015 – Finished Reading
May 16, 2015 – Shelved
May 16, 2015 – Shelved as: resources-for-storytellers

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