How much of me do I insert while hosting a community in conversation with itself? In sitting with this question for years, I’ve noticed two patterns in which hosts and community relate to each other: the host-attractor and the host-on-the-rim.
These two patterns are distinct in their energetic pattern: the host-attractor pattern occurs when community gathers around the host and the host-on-the-rim pattern occurs when the host is embedded in the community.
The host-attractor pattern is easy to spot; it is activated when we gather around people whose work we follow, who compel us to think and be differently, who energize us and lead us. In face-to-face situations, or in online virtual communities, we circle up around them, to learn from them. They play a critical role in helping us find a community of people who make their way through the world like us, or are on similar life journeys. The host-attractor helps us find our distributed tribe, the people like us that we might not otherwise meet in our usual life because they call us together based on a shared attraction.
In contrast, in the host-on-the-rim pattern there is no ‘attractor’ front and center. The attraction in this case is not identification with the attractor, but rather with the community, of people to each other, the community as a whole.
The energetics of these two patterns of hosting are different in significant ways.
The energetics of these two patterns of hosting are different in significant ways. The host-attractor pattern is imbued with a teacher-learner hierarchy (not a bad thing), where the host-on-the-rim environment flattens the teacher-learner hierarchy into a community where all are teachers and learners. In the host-attractor pattern, the teacher is looked to for leadership and teaching; in the host-on-the-rim pattern, teaching and learning is expected everywhere, from everyone.
Here are the qualities of these two patterns:
|Energetic shape||Community surrounds the host||Hosts are embedded in the community, taking turns|
|What brings people together||Desire to learn more about the messages or teachings of the host-attractor||Shared identity, shared interests, desire to learn together|
|What happens||A teaching/learning community around a teacher||A community that learns about, from and with itself|
|The shape of hierarchy||Clear and distinct, fixed teacher and learner roles||Clear and distinct shared leadership roles to support the community|
|Sense of community||Primary identification with host; secondary identification with surrounding community is possible; sense of community is short, lasting the duration or the event or as long as there is a connection with the host-attractor||Primary identification with community, with each other; sense of community is long-lasting|
It’s never a clear answer, it’s not one or the other, it’s a process of discerning what makes sense for where we are now.
When a community is having a conversation with itself, these two patterns are instructive when I ask the question: how much of me do I insert? It’s never a clear answer, it’s not one or the other, it’s a process of discerning what makes sense for where we are now. Two questions I ask myself:
- As a host I ask: what pattern will best serve the purpose of the gathering – more host-attractor, or more host-on-the-rim?
- As a participant I ask: is the pattern we are activating the pattern we want to be in?
How do you see the host-attractor and host-on-the-rim patterns in your world? Who do you rally around? Who do you rally with?
The next post will explore the roles, responsibilities and challenges that come with recognizing the host-attractor and host-on-the-rim patterns.