“Purpose-Driven Community” Survey Responses

Joshua Gorman and Steve Ma recently circulated a report on the responses to their “purpose-driven community” survey. They concluded:

Given the positive responses we’ve received, we are very committed to moving this process forward beginning with some pilots in the East Bay (California). We’re still in the early planning stages but if you’re interested in volunteering, helping us launch, attending one of our first events, providing additional feedback, etc., please let us know at stevejamesmaATgmailDOTcom and joshuaATgenerationwakingupDOTorg.

They attached a summary of the answers and offered these highlights:

1) Out of the 204 people who answered the questions about their interest in the proposed purpose-driven community, 64 (or 31.4%) said they were extremely interested (5 out of 5), and 63 (30.9%) ranked it a 4 out of 5. Only 17 people ranked it a 1, and 14 people ranked it a 2. Our sense from these numbers that there a pretty broad level of interest, and for a good number of people, there is a very deep level of interest. The group with the strongest interest was folks in a ‘spiritual community but not very active.’ However, there was strong interest with a host of others including people of color, young people, and people along the spectrum of spirituality.

2) The offerings that came out the strongest were: ‘Uniting with others to create systemic change,’ and ‘Connecting and engaging with a community of diverse people.’

3) In terms of names, ‘Thrive’ came out the strongest, and ‘circle’ and ‘gathering’ were the front-runners for a name referring to the Sunday event.

In their postscript, Gorman and Ma commented:

In case you’re wondering who we are, we are East Bay (California) residents who have a long history in working for social justice with non-profits and social enterprises. We both have a great interest in building a model for people to come together in community to support one another for personal and societal transformation. We began planning for this purpose-driven community recently and are eager to take the next steps to make it a reality.

I replied:

Thanks much for the report. I am heartened by the strong interest in “integrating the personal and the political,” a long-time interest of mine. From the summary, I took particular note of the fact that only 8% of the respondents said that they were not at all interested in a community that would help them “overcome personal challenges and injustices.”

I am interested in further participation. However, one element of the Generation Waking Up event I attended causes me some concern. That event affirmed a Buckminster Fuller quote with which I strongly disagree: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

I favor instead an outside-inside strategy. Building alternative communities is important. At the same time, reforming existing public policies to alleviate suffering and environmental damage is also critical. It is not either/or. Each can reinforce the other.

If this new project is committed to the Fuller perspective, it would diminish my interest. Otherwise, I am very definitely interested.

Regardless, I want to stay informed about your efforts, especially with regard to designing one or more user-friendly models that political activists could use to support one another in their self-development.

I also consider it essential to be clear that “the system” includes ourselves as individuals and our dominant culture as well as our major institutions. When most people talk about “systemic transformation,” they refer only to politics and economics. What you’ve written thus far implies a deeper analysis. Being more explicit could help clarify the point.


Therapy or Intimacy?

In the past when I’ve proposed convening a “soul session” to “speak from the heart” or a “support group” to report on efforts at self-improvement, some people have declined to participate, saying “That sounds like therapy.” Those comments prompt me to wonder, “What is the difference between therapy and intimacy?” Myself, I like to tell my close friends what I tell my therapist, and I like my friends to respond the way my therapist responds.