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Reflect upon the important communities (other than family and friends) in your life and list them. You might consider some of the following as personal communities:
Recreational club or league
A workplace
A block, neighborhood, or town where you live or once lived
A religious congregation or group
A mutual help (self-help) or other support group
A civic club, or group working for change in your society or community
The college or university you are attending
An Internet chat room or other on-line group
Consider why you listed each community. Consider the emotions you experience in this community.
Review your list and determine which of these communities are:
Localities?
Relational communities?
Microsystems?
Workplaces?
Other organizations?
Mediating structures linking individuals to larger communities or systems?
Larger populations or macrosystems?
Now, select the community with which you most often interact outside of family and friends and assess that community using the four McMillan-Chavis elements of sense of community: Membership, influence, integration, and shared emotional connection.
In an essay, identify your selected community and address the questions listed under each of the four elements.
Membership:
How is membership defined? What else do members have in common?
Are there common symbols shared by members?
What investment (material, emotional, other) have you made in this community?
How deep is your sense of emotional safety in this community?
Is being a member of this group an important identity for you? How?
Influence:
How does being in this community influence you as an individual?
How much influence do you as an individual have on this community?
If you wanted to influence a decision in this community, how would you do that?
Integration:
How are your individual needs fulfilled in this community?
How do you help fulfill other members’ needs?
What values are shared in this community?
Shared Emotional Connection:
Do you feel an emotional bond with other members of the community? How?
What rituals, celebrations or other occasions strengthen community bonds?
What community narratives are shared in this community?
Length: 3-5 pages

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