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Looking for more meaningful connections? We talk to top holistic lifestyle experts for the best advice on how to create community.

1. Know the difference

“A tribe is a group of people who are brought together with the same vision or purpose,” says personal trainer Chris van Hoof. “However, there’s a difference between a tribe and a crowd. If you create a group where nobody is leading, or where there is poor communication, it will disperse, as there is nothing to hold them together. A tribe, on the other hand, will, under the leader’s guidance, work together to overcome obstacles and achieve their common goal.”

2. Make it EASY

E is for Echo: Create unison within your group. Having everyone do something together at the same time creates unity. A is for Acknowledging differences, so everyone is aware that other people are at different levels and will reach their goals at different stages. S is for Silence, a powerful tool that allows people to refocus and to reform. This applies to both leader and group members. Y is for Your body language. It’s important to appear open and relaxed when establish relationships.

3. Hold a garage sale

“You’ll get rid of your unwanted stuff, recycle rather than create landfill, make friends and even make some money,” says Conleth Prosser, web designer and recycling enthusiast.

4. Follow the rules

“The development of a healthy community is, unfortunately, often left to chance,” says Cameron Burgess, founder of Uncompromised. “Communities are typically founded by people with common values. Acceptance of and adherence to these values should be a requirement for joining a community, yet many fall prey to one of two principal challenges: rigidity, an unwillingness or inability to evolve and grow in a changing world, and hyper-flexibility, a lack of critical thinking and unwillingness or inability to develop and maintain effective governance systems.”

5. Find your passion

“I had left the corporate world to live on a remote property and grow vegetables to eat raw in an effort to overcome a terminal cancer condition,” says Tim Shaddock, founder of Live Raw. “Using online forums, Facebook and physical meet-ups, I started to make connections. Your local organic store and co-op is the place where people of like mind generally end up, and further mutual interests can be explored in yoga, dance, music, meditation, and qi gong. On a local level, it might be growing food in a community garden, or exploring various healing avenues. Community gives purpose, vision and momentum.”

6. Lend a hand

“Scientific studies show how being part of a group with some commonality impacts our mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing,” says Jo Brown, founder of Mojo Community. “Research, particularly on breast cancer patients, reveals how significant it is to have a support system. We all need a helping hand sometimes and building a community allows everyone to give and receive support as needed.”

7. Build a playground

“People want to go back to the days when we had a village,” says Rebecca Ho, spokesperson for Touched by Olivia, an organisation that builds playgrounds through community help. “Some people find their community at school or work, but if you don’t have these, you’re stuck. Building playgrounds involves everybody. It takes around 18 months, during which time people develop great friendships and get together for fund-raisers. We also set up Facebook groups for parents of children with disabilities to connect with others. Online community helps to develop off-line community.”

8. Find your family

“In 2009 my husband and I founded Family Capers, a judgement-free, supportive online community,” says Linda Reed-Evener. “We are passionate about families getting access to resources and tips that are right for them all the way throughout family life. Today we have an amazing community of people who support and help each other.”

9. Get to know your neighbour

“I live in a 91-unit, four-level apartment building in Redfern, an inner city suburb of Sydney,” says Kevin Bathman. “For the first two years, I didn't know any of my neighbours and 'home' felt like a desolate, unfriendly place. I joined the Building's Strata Committee and volunteered my time in greening the building and creating a friendlier community. We organised events and started a community garden on our rooftop. Today, I have neighbours I can rely on, I spend more time outside than indoors, and to top it all off, we have local, fresh and healthy herbs and veg!”

10. Find others in the same boat

“Stay at Home Mum is a group of women who share tips on parenting, saving money, recipes, and dealing with the loneliness that parenthood sometimes brings,” says founder Jody Allen. “I keep the network going by providing great free content and constant interaction with the fans. Members can get onto the Facebook page at any time of day to ask a question, and there will be a fellow Stay at Home Mum there to help. I love helping other mums so they can have a better quality of life without wanting something in return. I found most sites could get very catty, and I wanted a safe place for mums to talk and share ideas.”

11. Follow web rules

According to Dr Rebecca Harwin, founder of an online community to support those with polycystic ovary syndrome, there are 12 key rules: “Provide great information, and often. Share your expertise. Engage with your group. Ask - and answer - questions. Tell your story honestly, be open. Let people know they can share your information. Include your details, so that when it is shared, the receiver can access your information directly too. Use pictures and videos. Use surveys, ask opinions and for feedback. Nurture the people in your community. Help them to feel comfortable sharing, and don't allow anyone to act in a disrespectful manner. Be approachable. Share valuable links and resources. Don't spam.”

12. Set your goals

“Robert Larocca, chairperson of CERES, an initiative that encourages sustainable business practices, says, “You need to set your aims collaboratively and understand that it will be an organic process. It takes time because you need to reach consensual outcomes if they’re to be robust. Communities also need to be maintained. Think of a traditional village: unexpected things happen, new people come, and things change. It also takes more than one person. You need ongoing efforts from a wide number of people for success.”

13. Prepare to share

“Growing a healthy community requires the courage to lead, the humility to follow, and the intelligence to know when the community may have changed in such a way that it is no longer somewhere you want to call home,” says Burgess. “Above all, a community is not ‘mine’ - it can only ever be fully valued and experienced as ‘ours’.”

14. Set standards

“Have clear guidelines of how your members are to behave online. We ask that our members are nice and encouraging, and those who aren’t will be removed from the community,” says Bec Davies of MadeIt. “As the owner it’s important to be approachable, honest and nice, yet willing to be take action when needed.”

15. Tweet

“I always considered Twitter a bastion of pure narcissism until I figured out how splendidly it connects like minds,” says author Matt Webber. “I’m still a novice, but for a bloke who spends way too much time alone typing in the dark, the instant gratification of being linked to people I admire and being followed by people who are interested in what I do is invaluable. If you temper the desire to sell and think things through before you shoot off your 140 words, a little web of humanity grows like a beanstalk and your Twitter feed becomes a portal to your preferred world. I’d quite like to have my Twitter chums over for a barbecue. Twitter’s weird like that, but pleasantly so. In a very real way it’s a window into the modern day soul.”

16. Be selfish

“It is extremely important that women take time out to fulfil our needs as ourselves, not as employee, boss, cook, mother, sister, or friend, but completely for ourselves,” says Zoe Watson, owner of Bliss Sanctuary for Women in Bali. “You can’t give to others if you don’t know how to receive.”

17. Fill yourself up

“We create joy within ourselves when our needs are filled and that joy then flows on to others,” says Megan Knight, founder of Natural Surrender. “Fulfilling our own needs therefore creates a positive, efficient, and happy environment.”

18. Change as you grow

“It’s important to find the community that suits your current needs,” says Rachel Hynes, founder of The Kids are All Right, a website for parenting teens. “When our kids were in primary school, we met at play dates or school events. But these opportunities dwindle when they go to high school and start arranging their own social lives. Parents need other parents to talk to. It helps to talk with other parents about boundary setting or to hear advice from someone further along the track who has the benefit of hindsight.”

19. Think big, start small

“A project may seem overwhelming if you aim too high,” says Jess Miller, co-founder of Grow it Local. “Grow It Local is all about encouraging backyard, community and windowsill growers to plot their patch on a map, share gardening tips online and connect with their community over a meal. Last year those that contributed were invited to a special Local Growers' Supper hosted by The Three Blue Ducks restaurant in Bronte. Everyone dropped off their produce on the Saturday in exchange for a ticket. We expected around 30 people to register but more than 300 did! The plan now is to 'grow it local' for the TEDx Sydney event in May this year for 2,200 people. We know it's ambitious but definitely worth a shot.”

20. Create a network

“When I set up my business I had a vision to create a networking group to reduce isolation, connect mumpreneurs, provide social opportunities and ways to partner with others,” says Kathryn Hocking, founder of Mumpreneur Maven. “I am driven by my desire to support and encourage mums to create their dream businesses and live the life they imagine. Part of achieving that is having the support network around you.”

21. Share and share alike

“Start a special interest group - maybe in photography, painting, sculpture, writing, dance, music, food or fitness - something you want to share, and plan to connect once a week or fortnight. Pick a café, someone’s kitchen table or your laptop – it’s up to you!” says Brown.

Contact our experts
Chris Van Hoof, personal trainer and business consultant, www.chrisvanhoof.com.au
Cameron Burgess, founder of Uncompromised, www.uncompromised.com
Tim Shaddock, founder of Live Raw, www.liveraw.com.au
Jo Brown, founder of Mojo Community, www.jobrown.com.au
Rebecca Ho, spokesperson for Touched by Olivia, www.touchedbyolivia.com.au
Linda Reed-Evener, founder of Family Capers, www.familycapers.com.au
Kevin Bathman, resident of Signature Apartments, www.greenstrata.com.au/case/signature-apartments-facebook
Jody Allen, founder of Stay at Home Mum, www.stayathomemum.com.au
Dr Rebecca Harwin, founder of Conquer Your PCOS, www.Facebook.com/ConquerYourPCOS
Robert Larocca, chairperson of CERES, www.ceres.org
Bec Davies, founder of MadeIt, www.madeit.com.au
Matt Webber, author, www.mattwebberwrites.com
Zoe Watson, owner of Bliss Sanctuary for Women in Bali, www.blisssanctuaryforwomen.com
Megan Knight, founder of Natural Surrender, www.naturalsurrender.com
Rachel Hynes, founder of The Kids Are All Right, www.thekidsareallright.com.au
Jess Miller, co-founder of Grow it Local, www.growitlocal.com.au
Kathryn Hocking, founder of http://www.mumpreneurmaven.com/