A Few Thoughts on Community ~David Stein
Did anyone see the movie “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” earlier this year? I did and I loved it! Marcel said many profound things about community. As such, he has rocketed through the ranks to enjoy the status as one of my heroes. “It’s pretty much common knowledge that it takes at least 20 shells to make a community,” Marcel formerly enjoyed life with his extended family. But with their mysterious disappearance he has dedicated his life to finding meaningful community. Marcel understands community better than most people do.
Community is so easy to say. And the word gets a lot of attention these days. It seems like a fairly simple and natural concept and word but it’s meaning is actually fairly complex. I think a community is a collection of shared connections. But let’s take a closer look.
Communities are formed and maintained to meet the shared needs of the members. Chief among these needs are safety (if we don’t feel safe we can’t connect), belonging, trust…all within the context of the stated purpose/purposes of the group. Like living organisms, communities have life cycle stages: inception, expansion, establishment, and maturity (this is sometimes referred to as “forming, storming, norming, and performing.”) The stages don’t necessarily happen in succession and some stages may repeat.
The Sol Center is a community. More precisely, it is a community with various communities nested within it…much like a Russian doll. For example: within the Sol Center there is the yoga community which can further be divided into Sunday yoga, weekday yoga, etc. There is also a community of meditators and communities organized around special classes and programs within the greater Sol Center community. The Sol Center (and all of the communities nestled within it) has 100% of the characteristics and qualities listed above. I never really thought much about community until I stumbled into the Sol Center.
There is a Hebrew folksong that I learned as a little kid. It essentially praises community and it is called Hinei MaTov and it goes like this (in Hebrew)…
Hinei ma tov u’mana’im
Shevet achim gam yachad
…which loosely means (it’s been said that translation is the first step toward interpretation as often words don’t readily translate from one language to another and meanings change over time):
How good it is, how sweet it is to be together on this day.
In the early 1980s David Stein went to lunch with friends at a Chinese restaurant called The Golden Dragon in Madison, WI. There and then, embedded in a cookie, Stein received the fortune that would change his life. It simply said, “Innovate or vegetate.” Since then, he has dedicated his life to finding innovative ways to vegetate.
In an effort to “see the world with fresh eyes,” Stein joined the Peace Corps when he was about 40. The Peace Corps sent him to a small country in the South Pacific called Vanuatu (which, by the way, is where James Michener wrote “Tales of the South Pacific.”) He stayed there for 19 years, most of which was not with the Peace Corps, during which time he managed to accomplish his goal of seeing the world through fresh eyes.
Stein is still an avid traveller, taking frequent epic journeys. However, these days he is prone to travel inwards as he is a regular practitioner of yoga, mindfulness, meditation, and more. He collects therapies and therapists. He loves to spend time in nature, even if only in his backyard. He is passionate about connection and community. Stein also enjoys cooking, eating, and feeding others. In his spare time he can sometimes be found plunking on his ukulele. He also spends a bit of time reading and writing (although he was never too wild about ‘rithmetic.)
He currently resides in a small house on the westside of Tucson, AZ with several hummingbirds, a neurological disorder, and lotsa good vibes.