Thriving Community

A Guide to Building and Sustaining a Thriving Community

Mitch Colleran
February 12, 2024
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Ever wondered what it takes to turn a community from 'eh' to 'epic'? 🤔

In this guide, we'll explore the key ingredients that make a community thrive, from defining its characteristics to practical steps in building and nurturing it. 🚀

Get ready for a deep dive into the world of community dynamics. 

…..Plus, we'll share a success story from Cosley Zoo, where the magic of community building led to an 80% increase in membership. Let's unravel the mysteries together and set your community on the path to success.

“Knowledge Capsule”

Before we dive in, we'd like to present a quick information session that we fondly refer to as the "Knowledge Capsule." In each educational blog post, we ensure to share a term that is closely related to our subject matter.

Community Alchemy:

Community Alchemy refers to the process of transforming a community into something greater than the sum of its parts through nurturing connections, fostering collaboration, and empowering members to contribute their unique skills and perspectives.

Just as alchemists sought to turn base metals into gold, community managers strive to turn ordinary interactions into valuable relationships, knowledge, and experiences within their communities. It emphasizes the transformative power of community building and the potential for creating something truly valuable and enriching for all involved.

Example: In a writing community, the community manager organizes collaborative writing workshops where members are paired up randomly. These pairings spark unexpected creative synergies, leading to new collaborations and stronger connections among members. Through this Community Alchemy project, individual writers transform into a supportive network of creative allies, enhancing the community's sense of belonging and mutual growth.“

What makes a thriving community?

In the intricate tapestry of community dynamics, the term "thriving" isn't just a descriptor—it's an aspiration, a state of being that goes beyond the surface. A thriving community is a dynamic ecosystem, where the synergy of various elements creates an environment that nurtures growth, connection, and collective well-being. 

Let's delve into the core components that contribute to the vitality of a thriving community:

Strong Social Bonds:

  • Building meaningful relationships forms the cornerstone of a thriving community.
  • Genuine connections foster a sense of belonging and support among community members.

“For Instance, In the tight-knit community of Maplewood, residents have discovered a simple yet powerful ritual that exemplifies the strength of social bonds—Sunday Suppers. Every Sunday evening, neighbors gather at a communal space, be it a local park or a designated community center, to share a meal and connect on a personal level.”

Inclusivity and Diversity:

  • A thriving community celebrates diversity, embracing the richness of varied perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences.
  • Inclusivity ensures that every voice is heard, promoting a sense of equity and belonging.

Collaborative Environment:

  • Collaboration is not just encouraged; it's woven into the fabric of a thriving community.
  • Shared goals and a collective vision provide a sense of purpose that unites community members.

Effective Communication:

  • Open and transparent communication channels are vital for community growth.
  • Actively listening to the needs and concerns of community members fosters a culture of empathy and understanding.
“In the heart of our thriving community, a pivotal event unfolds—the eagerly anticipated town hall meeting. The agenda is robust, ranging from discussing upcoming projects to addressing concerns raised by community members. What sets this gathering apart is not just the topics at hand but the way communication unfolds: Open Dialogue, Active Listening, Transparent Updates, Q&A Session, Community Feedback Loops “

Common Values and Goals:

  • Defining and upholding core values creates a cohesive identity for the community.
  • Shared goals provide a roadmap, aligning the efforts of community members toward a common purpose.
  • Establishing a unified foundation ensures a sense of direction and commitment.

Characteristics of a Thriving Community

In the realm of community development, where the coffee is always brewing and the potlucks never disappoint, the concept of a "thriving community" stands as a beacon of aspiration—a vision of interconnectedness, resilience, and collective well-being….

Understanding the characteristics that define such a community is essential for those embarking on the journey of community building.

Let's delve into the key traits that distinguish a thriving community:

Strong Social Connections:

  • At the heart of every thriving community lies a network of strong social bonds.
  • Relationships are nurtured through meaningful interactions, fostering a sense of belonging and support.
  • Individuals feel valued and connected, creating a robust social fabric that withstands challenges.

Effective Communication:

  • Clear and open communication channels are essential for building trust and transparency.
  • Active listening fosters empathy and understanding, ensuring that all voices are heard and valued.

Quick Tip: Provide Timely and Transparent Updates: Keep the community informed about relevant developments, decisions, and progress on initiatives. Transparency builds trust and helps prevent misinformation or misunderstandings.

Inclusivity and Diversity:

  • Thriving communities embrace diversity in all its forms—cultural, social, and ideological.
  • Inclusivity ensures that every voice is heard and respected, regardless of background or perspective.

Collaborative Environment:

  • Shared goals and a sense of purpose unite community members, driving them towards common objectives.
  • Through teamwork and cooperation, thriving communities achieve more significant impact and sustainable growth

Shared Values and Goals:

  • Thriving communities are anchored by shared values and a collective vision for the future.
  • These guiding principles provide a sense of direction, inspiring community members to work towards common objectives.

Understanding these characteristics lays the foundation for creating and nurturing thriving communities. Whether you're a community leader, organizer, or active participant, recognizing the importance of social connections, inclusivity, collaboration, communication, and shared values is key to fostering a vibrant and resilient community ecosystem.

Building a Thriving Community

Ah, "community thriving" - those two words hold the power to conjure images of bustling farmers markets, lively block parties, and shared laughter echoing through the streets. 


Let's be honest, building a thriving community ain't always sunshine and smiles.

It takes sweat, creativity, and maybe a sprinkle of humor to turn a group of strangers into a vibrant network.

Step 1: Define Your "Thriving"

Figure out what your community's definition of "thriving" is. 


  • shared goals, 
  • genuine connections, 
  • and an environment 

where everyone feels like they belong, even if they're wearing mismatched socks (because, hey, who doesn't love a good quirk?).

Step 2: Sow the Seeds of Connection

Create opportunities for people to connect! 

Think icebreaker games that don't involve awkward trust falls, themed events that spark conversation, and online forums where members can share their latest sourdough starter triumphs (or failures, because let's be real, baking is hard). 

Remember, respect and inclusivity are crucial for building trust and encouraging participation. 

Step 3: Nurture Diverse Voices

Encourage participation from all walks of life. Amplify diverse voices, celebrate unique perspectives, and create a space where everyone feels safe to share their thoughts and ideas.

Example: Nurturing diverse voices is an ongoing process, but the rewards are immense. Imagine a book club thriving not just on classic novels, but also exploring diverse narratives from around the world. By actively seeking out recommendations, facilitating respectful discussions, and celebrating different literary traditions, the club fosters a richer experience for all, reflecting the vibrant tapestry of human stories.“

Step 4: Weed Out Negativity

Let's face it, negativity is the dandelion of the community garden - persistent and unwanted…

Establish clear guidelines for respectful communication, address conflicts constructively, and don't be afraid to gently remove members who bring more drama than a reality TV show reunion. 

Remember, a thriving community thrives on positivity, not petty squabbles over whose turn it is to take out the recycling..

Step 5: Celebrate Growth and Achievements

Building a community is a journey, not a destination. Recognize and celebrate milestones, big and small. 

Did a member overcome a personal challenge?? Throw a virtual high five! 

Did your community garden win the "Best Zucchini in the Neighborhood" award? Time for a zucchini-themed potluck (yes, it's a thing, trust me). 

Celebrating achievements reinforces the value of the community and motivates everyone to keep growing together.

Success Story: Cosley Zoo Sees 80% Increase in Membership After Using Join It

Join It: Driving Membership Growth by 80% at Cosley Zoo

  • Since implementing Join It, the Cosley Zoo has undergone a remarkable transformation in its membership management, experiencing an impressive 80% increase in memberships. 
  • Under Carey Moreland's guidance, the zoo has streamlined operations, enhanced communication with members, and reduced staff workload.

 Join It's user-friendly interface, robust features, and outstanding value have proven invaluable in propelling the Cosley Zoo towards its conservation mission while fostering enduring connections between people and animals.

So what’s holding you back? Start optimizing your community management and delivering the best experience for your members now with Join It!

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Mitch Colleran
Founder / CEO

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