Building community is about going out, meeting new people, showing up, and connecting.
Whether you have been a part of a community for a while or you are joining a new community, building up your participation can lead to deeper feelings of belonging.
On this page, explore the stages of finding community, some ideas on places to find community and tips on how to build up your participation within the community. Additionally, discover gathering — a way to build positive interactions with your community or friend group.
The Stages of Finding Community:
- The Searching Stage: Get out of the house and try new things. Explore! Meet people. Begin searching by showing up to things.
- The Engagement Stage: Start being an active member of a community. Evaluating “what do I bring to this community?” is a necessary step in connecting with a community.
- Belonging: With all the ingredients of belonging in the pot, and participation happening, start being more involved. Maybe take a leadership role or host an event, get closer to certain members by inviting them to hang out outside the community. Find where your piece fits into the puzzle of the community and you will find belonging. Belonging may take a while to move to (or may never come, depending on community fit).
There are likely hundreds of communities to be found near you. Searching for them is the fun part! See below for some examples or ideas, or click here for a Megalist of ideas for where to meet people.
- Religious groups like church or bible study
- A weekly class (art, dance, exercise, ect…)
- College (clubs, greek life, intramurals, majors, student orgs, etc…)
- Work Colleagues
- Clubs (there are thousands)
- Close Friend Groups
- A unit or branch of the military
- Online Communities
- Politically affiliated groups
- Sports Fanatics
- Support Groups (AA, grief)
- Music groups (bands, orchestra, groupies)
- Service Organizations
- Identity related groups (Latinx, LGBTQ+)
Flow Arts Community
The LGBTQ+ Community
Channel Swimming Club
Irish Dancing Club
The Military (Specific Unit or Branch)
Naruto Cosplay Club
A Dance Studio Community
20 Weird Clubs That Actually Exist
Erin Mccarthy from Mental Floss speaks about the basic origins of 20 “unusual” clubs.
Community Requires Participation
Surprise! Turns out if you want to find belonging, you have to take responsibility and participate in stuff! The recipe below provides a basic outline of community. YOU have to make the adjustments to engage with community. If you skipped the reflection on the Understanding Community Page go back and try it now, and make a plan to go deeper, take action, and participate.
“To find your people, you have to be willing—and generous with your energy.”
– Radha Agrawal, Belong1
Don’t be Like Lance
Lance enjoyed the work of his 9-5 office job in sales, but he never really felt like part of the team. With his long commute, he never opted for after-work happy hour, he didn’t eat lunch in the breakroom, and there were some people he worked with whom he had never even had a conversation with. One day, while on the phone with his mother, Lance said: “My job sucks! The people are stand-off-ish and no one has really taken any interest in me. I think I am going to quit and look for a place where I fit in better.” His mother understood. Of course, she knew how amazing Lance was and thought it was a shame his job wasn’t going to work out.
While the perfect story would end with Lance trying his best to get to know his co-workers and making an effort and even hosting the christmas party at his house, the reality is most people stick to the story that the job just sucks. Without action and responsibility, the story is the reality.
“A community, like a garden, needs consistent nurturing and loving attention.” – Radha Agrawal, Belong1
TAKE ACTION: Find Community
Dip your toes into the Searching Stage.
- Find 5-10 groups to join or events to attend (in person) in your area. If you are unsure where to start, check out the Megalist of where to meet people.
- Think about your values and interests.
- Drop into classes.
- If you don’t enjoy something, move on. The Searching Stage is about exploring, and part of searching is finding you don’t like certain activities.
- See the How to Meet (New) People page for more ideas and resources for finding groups to join.
- Once you have tried out 5-10 groups, narrow it down to 1 or 2 to focus on.
- List 3-5 ways you can further participate and contribute to the group/community. Below are a few ideas. Bringing music, food, or doing an act of service is always appreciated.
- Get involved with discussions, bring thoughtful ideas and questions, and listen to others’ ideas.
- Volunteer for “jobs” within the group. Maybe they need help setting up for an event or need someone to pick up posters or design a t-shirt. Volunteering will bring you out from the background and people will start to remember you.
- Invite a few people you click with to volunteer with you or to hang out in a different context. Find a small circle within the larger community to connect with on a more intimate level.
- Host an event or meeting at your place. Cook food. Invite people in.
Build community and belonging at the same time by creating positive and intentional experiences together.
Priya Parker, author of The Art of Gathering, highlights both the importance of gathering and the importance of intentionality when gathering. When we gather with the purpose of creating meaning between people through deepening connections, we are able to elevate experience in profound ways.2
When planning an event or gathering, what is on the list of things you need to prepare? For most people, that is the food, the location, the decorations etc. We generally leave the conversation and connection up to the guests to figure out, sometimes that means it doesn’t really take off. When we prioritize the food or venue above meaningful connection, the results often follow in that order as well.
By gathering with intention, we can strengthen the bonds between our family and friends as well as the intimacy we all share and experience. Gathering purposefully is a great way to bridge together different groups of friends and pull down the walls that can keep friends in their respective cliques. If you’ve ever been to a wedding and noticed the families and friends of the couple stick to themselves instead of mingling, you have experienced these walls.
3 Steps to Turn Everyday Get-Togethers into Transformative Gatherings | Priya Parker | TED
In her Ted Talk, Parker outlines 3 ways to turn every get together into an intentional way to connect:
- Embrace a specific disputable purpose — set an intention around how you are gathering
- Cause good controversy — embrace your differences
- Create a temporary alternative world through the use of pop-up rules — set the stage for connection
When you get together with friends, plan for a gathering beyond the ‘things’, and focus on the experience and how you can cultivate real connections.
Intentional gathering goes beyond getting people to attend.
- Get to know each other: When you know about the folks in the room, you’ve got a foundation for conversation that can get deeper fast.
- Share Accomplishments and Aspirations
- Have people share a 3-5 sentence introduction ahead of time and offer those to everyone attending. This way, people can “know” others without interviewing everyone and can skip some small talk.
- Play Two Truths and a Lie or other teambuilding Games (See below)
- Expand the theme beyond decorations and into conversations
- Birthday Party: have people send in stories of the person ahead of time and make a game out of sharing memories.
- New Years: Have people share their significant moments from the last year.
- School Of Life: Conversation Menus
- Play! Set the intention to have fun.
2 or More Players
Authentic Relating practices create a safe, intentional space – rooted in play and supported by clear boundaries – to create meaningful and enjoyable connections to self and other. By learning Authentic Relating skills, you can drop your conditioned relational habits, and learn to relate with yourself and others from a deeper more authentic expression of your truth.
This is a game designed to get the very best out of our friendships. Played on a board with a dice and cards, it invites us to ask one another a series of kind but searching questions about our lives. The more honestly and clearly we answer, the faster we advance around the board. The winner of the game is the person who has best demonstrated that bedrock of true friendship: the capacity for sincere, kindly self-disclosure. The game is guaranteed to bring out new facets of our friends and will allow for a series of fascinating moments of revelation and mutual discovery.
Designed for partners, dates, or friends, Where Should We Begin? is many games at once. The rules are tailored to the many situations you might find yourself in, and to different types of groups. Just as an amazing connection is about sharing, listening, risk, laughter, and discovery, so too is a great game. Let the Prompt Cards guide you and the Story Cards inspire you to share the stories you rarely tell.
4 – 12 Players
The game with inspiration, heart & hilarity
SPARKED is an addictively fun game that celebrates and elevates everyone. It’s a Game Changer! From soulful conversations to juicy surprises and laugh-until-you-cry moments, you never know what will be SPARKED! SPARKED delivers rich, memorable experiences every time you play.
The Best Teambuilding Games For Groups
Below is a list of team-building games with a brief description. There are thousands of team-building games out there that accomplish different tasks from getting to know each other to opening communication.
Icebreakers / Names
- Group Juggling: One person starts with passing one ball to a person across the circle from them. Each person then passes the ball, saying the name of the person they are passing to. Once everyone has been passed to once, repeat passing in the same order trying to go faster. Then, add additional balls, always starting with the same first person and going in the same order. The result is organized chaos and names are learned quickly.
- Ha, Ha: Sit in a circle. One person starts and says: “Ha” the next person says “Ha,Ha” and the third says it three times and so forth. Anyone who actually laughs or makes a noise when it is not their turn is out. Continue the game around the circle until time is up or there is only one person remaining.
- Rock, Paper, Scissors Tournament: Everyone finds a partner and plays rock, paper, scissors. The loser becomes the cheerleader for the winner, following them to the next match and cheering their name. Anytime someone wins, all the cheerleaders of the loser transfer to them. Eventually there will be two people left in the game, each with a cheering section behind them.
Getting to Know You
- Two Truths and a Lie: Everyone in the group comes up with 2 truths and 1 lie about themselves. Everyone says their three statements and the group tries to guess which is the lie.
- Toilet Paper Game: Pass around a roll of toilet paper and have everyone take as much as they normally use. Once everyone has their squares of toilet paper, they must share as many interesting facts about themselves as squares they have. Bonus: Ask everyone to share if they are a roller, folder, or crumpler. Lots of laughs!
- Switch if… : Whole group except one person sits in chairs in a circle or stands on markers of some kind. One person stands in the center and says a statement starting with “Switch if…” that is true for them, for example: “Switch if you live in The United States.” Everyone that is true for gets up and tries to switch to a new chair. There will be one person left in the center who will continue the game.
- I would rather…: In a circle, one person starts and says an activity they would like to do (for example Run a marathon). The next person repeats what person 1 said and then shares what they would rather do (run a marathon, bake a cake) the next person repeats the first two activities and adds their own. Repeat around the circle until it gets back to the first person who repeats everyone’s activities.
Communication / Tuning In
- Silent Order: Line up in a specified order without speaking. Can repeat for multiple categories. (Examples: alphabetically by first name, birthday order, Hometown proximity, years in club, etc…)
- Count to 20: The group tries to count to twenty. Anyone can start, then someone different has to say the next number. No one can speak at the same time and no predetermined order can be used.
- The Human Knot: Everyone stands in a circle. Everyone reaches out and holds hands with two different people, excluding the two people to either side of them. Each left hand should hold a left hand, and each right hand a right. Together, the group has to figure out how to unknot and end up in a big circle.
- Trust Walk: One partner is blindfolded and the other leads them on a path or around the room. Switch after a certain amount of time.
- Invisible Fence: Tie up a rope or string (just over jumping height) to represent the fence. Everyone in the group must get over the fence without touching the rope. If anyone touches the rope, everyone must start over. Variation: make up a rule for order the group must follow without you revealing what the rule is (i.e. everyone wearing jeans has to go over first). If they go out of order they must start over.
Make Up Rules
Parker also suggests making up “rules” for the gathering to encourage intention. By creating an intentional set of guidelines, rules, or themes, you give people an opportunity to express themselves freely, with more knowledge of what is acceptable.
- The first person to talk about their kids has to buy all the appetizers
- If you bring up politics you have to wear a silly hat for the rest of the time.
- If you talk about work, you have to do a specific task (drink, push-ups, etc.)
- If you complain about something, you also have to share one thing you are grateful for
Taking gatherings to a new level like this gives the possibility for new discussions to start and for people to keep telling stories and engaging with each other.
TAKE ACTION – Be the Host
Waiting around to be invited to gatherings means lacking responsibility for filling the need for belonging. Finding community is left to chance. To get the ball rolling, we need to be proactive. Print out an invitation and drop it in neighbors’ mailboxes or on their doorstep (Canva has tons of invitation templates for free). In the digital age, people will appreciate the extra step of an invitation and it will be a physical reminder of your event!
- Host a housewarming party when you move in. Invite friends and new neighbors, so you won’t be the only new one for people to meet.
- Start a monthly girl’s/guy’s/friend’s night. Play board games, watch a weekly TV show, watch a movie, do crafts, bake something, host a potluck…the activities are endless! Invite friends from different circles to mix things up. Make it a monthly thing if you are looking for consistency, with a different host each month.
- Host a Wine and Cheese night. Invite new friends over and ask them to bring wine or cheese representative of themselves (ex: if they are originally from California, they may bring a local wine from their area). Sharing each other’s stories is a door to vulnerability.
- Offer to host your group’s next meeting. If you typically meet at someone’s house, why not volunteer yours? Not only will it get you more involved in the group, but it will allow people to get to know you better through your home.
- Agrawal, R. (2019). Belong: Find your people, create community, and live a more connected life. New York, NY: Workman Publishing.
- Parker, P. (2018). The Art of Gathering. New York, NY: Riverhead Books.