Inspire, Connect, Enable. These are words you’ve likely seen or heard if you’ve wandered into Impact Hub Ottawa’s coworking space or attended some of our weekly events. 

They serve as a testament to our mission and reflect the reality that positive impact most often occurs as a result of collective action; when like-minded people get together, share ideas, and work together to make the world a better place. 

Humans are a social species who’ve relied on cooperation to survive and thrive; engaging in community is what reminds us that we are not alone. Yet, with isolation having been the shared experience throughout the past 18 months, re-discovering community will be a critical factor if we hope to collectively solve many of the deep-seated crises we face that have been amplified by the pandemic.

So, what is community?

In its most literal sense, community refers to a feeling of fellowship with others due to sharing common attributes, interests, and goals.

Yet, the beauty of communities is that they can exist in many different forms, often defined by the people who help to build them up. Communities come together through various ways, such as common interest, which brings together those who share a passion. Alternatively, a desire for action can connect those who seek to manifest change. Other communities might grow through shared space (including the online space), same activities or professions, or even ordinary circumstances such as events. 

Communities are not limited to the spaces around you. The internet has opened up wide channels of effective communication that allow us to connect with like-minded groups anywhere in the world, something which many of us enjoyed and explored over the past two years.

However, nothing quite compares to sitting around a table with your peers and brainstorming together, sharing a pot of coffee, laying out plans on a couple of sheets of paper, drawing a multicolored mindmap of ideas on a whiteboard.

Why does it matter so much?

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 17 encourages us to find partnerships for the goals. And in many ways, this is one of the most impactful SDGs. It reminds us that collaboration is the way forward, and that starts with cultivating and building up the communities around us.

Communities are the bedrock of action at the local, national and international level. Like Impact Hub Ottawa member Helen Brady helping our neighborhood tool library find a new home, or former co-stewards Moose Hide Campaign who have been raising funds to end violence towards Indigenous women and children by distributing moose hide squares across Canada, or the Impact Hub Global Network, connecting impact-focused changemakers to leave a positive mark through the work they do.

Finding community also acts as a great pathway to self-development. We learn best when discussing with others, we feel inspired after connecting with people, and we find meaning when we attach ourselves to collectives that are greater than the sum of their parts.

Rekindling our sense of community

Realizing that community and connection are an essential part of life is only the first step. The real benefits will come after offering a small amount of your time, mind, and soul to building and growing the communities around you. 

Now would be a great time to explore new and old options for building community. You might consider volunteering with a nonprofit, many of whom have faced an increase in demand but a reduction in volunteers for their causes. If you believe in a political or social cause, join arms with other like-minded individuals to create strategies for change. Finally, if you see a space that is ripe for innovation, or you have an idea that could help do good, don’t keep it to yourself, share it with your communities and you will no doubt find collaborators who share your vision.

Finally, while we may be a little biased on the matter, we’d highly recommend you consider joining a coworking space like Impact Hub Ottawa. Working from home almost non-stop for more than a year has had its benefits, but nothing compares to working in a space that fosters innovation and community. It’s a great space to maximize productivity, feel inspired, and rediscover that sense of community we’ve all been missing. Whether you have a small business that needs a space to bring the team back together, or you have an idea that our coaches can help you bring to life, Impact Hub Ottawa is the community space that’s perfect for you!