Blog 1 – Building a bold Community

by Lorna Lyons

‘If you build it, they will come’ said someone somewhere, I think it might have been Kevin Costner in ‘Field of Dreams’ or was it Noah whilst building his ark, whichever origin suits you best it feels apt to describe the bold community we have been building over the last 4 years.

We have built a network of over 100 like-minded individuals all striving to make the world a better place for those living with dementia but does this a community make? That is a tough question to answer, and we thought perhaps the answer would reveal itself at our bold Futures Event in October 2022. However, this fabulous day produced even more questions like ‘What does being part of the bold Community mean?’, ‘How do we communicate more widely?’ and ‘How do I connect with other partners directly?’. I’d like to think the bold Community Website answers some of these questions, but I think there is a wider query ‘How do we move our bold Community forward into the future?’

So, you can imagine my delight when I happened upon Julian Stodd’s ‘Community Builder: A Social Leadership Certification Programme’ on Twitter. As many of you know the bold Social Leadership Programme encompasses a lot of Julian’s work on Social Leadership ‘Encapsulating the mindset, skills and behaviours required to be an effective leader in the Social Age’. Bringing Out Leaders in Dementia – bold aims to apply this theory to dementia striving to create a world where having a dementia doesn’t matter for who we are as people or how we live our lives. Convinced this training would help us move the bold Community onwards into the future we asked Heather if we could attend and she said yes, so bold partners read on to find out how that Community Building journey is going…

I have attended some of Julian’s training before which I know some of our bold partners have too such as his ‘Quiet Leadership Journeys’ so I knew Julian takes a very relaxed approach and there are never any right or wrong answers which we also try and encompass in the bold Programme. And I wasn’t wrong in the very first session Julian stated he didn’t know all the answers and was merely our guide on this community building journey together. He did ask us ‘Where have you come from?’ and ‘What do you hope to discover?’ tempting to answer from the kitchen with a coffee and peace on earth which would probably not be wrong but would perhaps not serve much purpose on my journey. So, I answered I had come from the bold Community, and I hoped to discover ways of answering the questions posed at the bold Futures Event especially ‘What does being part of the bold Community mean?’ which has been ringing in my ears ever since. The first session was a gentle orientation and getting to know the other participants on this cohort culminating in an introduction to ‘The Landscape of Communities’ no homework set other than connecting with each other and thinking about the different lenses we view our communities with.

Week 2 comes around and I must point out it is 1 hour a week so a quick dipping of toe into the ocean of community building and then away to ponder. In the week between I read the handbook and thought about the different lenses I view the bold community through such as A Quantitative lens – how many partners have signed up to our community? A Qualitative lens – how engaged is our community? A supportive lens – what does our community need/want? A team lens – what can the team facilitate/create for our community? So, with all this buzzing around in my head I logon for week 2.

After the usual warm welcome and some chat around exploring the landscape of communities we are sent into break out rooms to ponder another question ‘What is a community?’ Big question so my fellow sailors and I (we’ll call them that since Julian embraces a nautical theme) had a think and suggested a group who share a location, membership or shared interest or some other glue which joins them together, the glue is important we thought.

Back in the main room we discussed different types of community which fall into 2 camps, ‘formal’ or ‘social’ and it occurs to me that the bold community is probably formal on graduation from the bold programme. However, partners are there for different reasons, some work in dementia, others care for family members or are living with dementia themselves so their connection with the community could be argued as being more social than formal from a peer support perspective.

So, to the homework – Draw Your Landscape of Communities considering How, Where and Why they are you connected? The bold landscape is below, and I reflected that the bold community really does interconnect, our partners in the dementia landscape perhaps focus on different aspects such as policy, meeting centres or music but we are all connected by the common goal of having people with lived experience at the core striving to create a better world for those living with dementia and their supporters. However, others in the group had really separate circles with no cross-over so our landscape of communities are personal and unique to us.

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