Community – what’s in a word?

July 31, 2015 2:54 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

This word has been used or applied to describe about almost any collection of individuals – at town, a religious affiliation, a fraternal organization, an apartment complex, and yes, even a professional organization – and regardless of how poorly those individuals communicate with each other. 


noun: community; plural noun: communities

1. a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.

2. a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals

We, as a board, and as an entity have been using the word “community” to attempt to describe how we want people to associate and communicate with one another regarding our professional interests.  Where this is generally an okay use of the word, I believe it falls a little short on directive.  To be a meaningful community, we need to restrict that label to be a descriptor for a group of individuals who have learned to communicate honestly and openly with each other - where our relationships can go deeper than the masks of composure we wear, and who have developed some commitment to each other and can make other’s situations our own.  But how do we get there?  And how do we function to look like that?

Community needs to be more than the sum of its parts, its individual members.   But what is this something more? 

I read an article where the concept of community is analogous to that of a gem.  The seeds or foundation of community reside in our humanity – being a social species – just as a gem originally resides in the earth.  But that which lies in the earth is not yet a gem, only a potential one.  Geologists refer to gems in the rough simply as a stone.  A group becomes a community in somewhat the same way a stone becomes a gem – through a process of cutting and polishing.  Once cut and polished, the stone becomes something beautiful.  And generally we describe this beauty using terms like clarity and facets.  So community, like a gem, is multifaceted and that each facet is contributing to the overall worth.

I believe this analogy resonates with me because we just cannot push people together or ask them to come together and expect beautiful things will automatically happen.  Our communities in Chicago ISPI will require a lot of “cutting and polishing”. And just at the artist who takes a rough stone and creates a gem with the greatest clarify and light reflecting facets, we will need to have patience and creative sight.

So for me, if we are to really aspire to be a community for each other, then like the gem stone, we’ll need to strive for the best clarify –i.e., communicating honestly and openly with one another – and have brilliant facets – i.e. members who are willing to reflect the light on topics, problems, career paths, our industry, etc.   And it is with this aspiration and commitment to cutting and polishing, we can make our Chicago ISPI communities invaluable to our members.

Kevin Rillo, Director Chicago ISPI



  • August 03, 2015 4:44 PM | Ann Battenfield (Administrator)
    Excellent analogy, Kevin. So may brilliant facets here! Getting my polishing cloth out right now.
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