We asked young people what they think about the characteristics of a good community. Read below to see what they had to say.
What does belonging to a community mean to you?
”Belonging to a community means to me that I’m not alone, and that my values are recognized. When I can concretely impact the community myself, it offers both activities and content to my life.”
”Participating in the Culture House activities has given me social companionship and validation for what I do, something I’ve always longed for. I’ve also received positive feedback, which has made me feel seen. Through the activities, I’ve regained the pursuit of goals and dreams; the feeling that I have something to carry forward. It’s a significant change that I can talk about these things openly. Nowadays, I constantly try new things. I’ve unexpectedly joined things here at the Culture House that I would have never thought of doing, even if it seemed cool.”
”Being part of something larger or being in a group. I believe that most people have a need to belong to something or participate in something. Personally, it’s important to me. And when there’s no discrimination in such a place, it reduces exclusion. If I could just get here first.”
”Belonging to a community gives me a reason to leave home. I probably wouldn’t have left home for anything other than grocery shopping earlier without such a place. I’ve noticed that when I’m tired physically or mentally, the longer I stay at home, the more tired I become. I’m social enough. Even though being among people gives you energy, it also gives you strength.”
”I’ve made friends here, and I hang out with them in my free time.”
”Belonging to a community is an asset; it feels like I’ve found a group of like-minded people. In a good community, you can be yourself and not have to worry about what others think after every sentence.”
What creates a sense of belonging to a group or community?
”The formation of a sense of community is influenced by being heard and seeing one’s concrete impact on the community. This can be when your suggestions are collectively discussed. And the ability to bring up topics and being invited to participate in activities. It’s important that there are open doors and transparency in what happens within the community. Information flows openly and isn’t hidden behind closed doors.”
”When you join, it’s great that you’re not treated as ’new’ for a long time; you’re immediately included in everything we do.”
What are the characteristics of a good community?
”Characteristics of a good community include smooth information flow, openness, transparency, reliability, respect for privacy, a welcoming atmosphere, acceptance, safety, clear rules, and trust that the rules are followed.”
”Good community is like a sanctuary where you can come no matter what kind of day you’ve had. It was crucial in the beginning to feel welcome every time I visited. From the very beginning, we were encouraged, even if everything didn’t go exactly as planned. No one cared if I made a mistake.”
”In a good community, there is a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. It’s a safe place where you don’t need to fear being yourself. You can be your true self and feel however you feel at that moment, and no one asks, ’Why are you like that today?’ You don’t have to tell anyone what’s bothering you, unless you want to. Acceptance is a significant part of it. Compared to, say, some official agency, it’s a huge difference. I dread those more than anything. Here, people are much more relaxed. In my opinion, all places serving youth should be like this.”