At the Helm: A caring — and concerned — community

By David Gee

I like the word community. I use it a lot. In fact, I likely overuse it, and I’m not the only one. It seems these days especially, more and more advertising, marketing and social media messaging contains, and in some cases co-opts, the word community. So, I am attempting to reframe in my own mind what it means to be a member of a community, and specifically, the recreational boating community. More on that a little later.

The primary dictionary definition of community is “a group of people living in the same place or having a characteristic in common.”

But our notion, and definition, of community has been changing.

Author and speaker Bill Bishop spoke to that transformation at the Aspen Ideas Festival, co-sponsored by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic: “It used to be that people were born as part of a community, and had to find their place as individuals. Now people are born as individuals and have to find their community.” 

When I was doing some research for this piece, I saw that a lot of people define community as those sharing goals, purposes, attitudes and interests.

However, blogger and community builder Fabian Pfortmüller says that’s too broad and vague. He says he shares attitudes, interests and goals with lots of other people, but that doesn’t mean he feels a sense of community with them.

He opines that true communities are about relationships.

“This is where the magic of a community happens,” writes Pfortmüller. “When people care about each other, they develop trust. And trust unlocks collaboration, sharing, support, hope, safety and much more.”

If you want to see how important relationships are to the recreational boating business, all you have to do is walk the aisles at IBEX or the docks at Fort Lauderdale or Miami. You’ll quickly recognize what a small world the boating world can be.

But since this global pandemic hit, I am also seeing what a caring and compassionate community it can be, and how this need is indeed unlocking and fostering collaboration and support to serve the greater good.

From webinars and blog posts about how to weather the storm, to the widespread sharing (at a proper distance of course) of ideas and best practices, to the many manufacturers who have donated time, money and materials in support of the coronavirus cause, the response has been tremendous.

If you have a story about how your business or organization has responded to the coronavirus crisis, please email me at dgee@boatingindustry.com.   

We would also like to hear from you if you have a comment on community, and what it means to you.

Wherever and whatever your community is, stay safe, stay healthy and we’ll see you on the water! 

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