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Community 3.0



Community used to be built around a common location: a village, a town hall, a bowling league, a workplace.


Now, it is increasingly an extension of a common interest: a dog lovers Facebook group, a Fantasy Football league, a subreddit dedicated to the Marvel Universe. None of these depend on a physical location to exist.


Building off of this observation, Barry Wellman, a renowned sociologist who specializes in communities and social networks, explains that community could be described “as group-like neighborhoods and villages, but it is more useful to define community as networks of interpersonal ties that provide sociability, support, information, a sense of belonging, and social identity.”


The nature of communities has changed, but the necessity for them has never been in question. Outside of the physiological needs for water, food, sleep, and shelter, the most essential human need is to feel safe and secure, a need which is often fulfilled through community.


"It is more useful to define community as networks of interpersonal ties that provide sociability, support, information, a sense of belonging, and social identity.”

Wellman has a few thoughts on this human need and how it has changed. He has identified three major cultural shifts that have defined communities in the last century:


1. Door-to-Door Relationships


2. Place-to-Place Relationships


3. Person-to-Person Relationships


In the period of time after World War II, “door-to-door relationships” were the status quo. Your neighborhood was your community. More specifically, it was the people and places that surrounded you and you could access by foot. It revolved around things like a town’s tee-ball league, a church bible study, a front-porch conversation, or an evening at the local bar. These types of interactions required a space and a time. In this era, connection happened more slowly, as you were rarely balancing more than one conversation at a time.


Sometime during the 1970s, our communities made a shift to “place-to-place relationships.” Your community expanded to wherever your car could take you. Travel club sports teams popped up, and malls became hubs of entertainment. To meet people, you would travel for a shared experience: a baseball game downtown, a concert a couple towns over. Your interactions were purely based on showing up.


As a society, we have now shifted to “person-to-person relationships.” These relationships don’t rely on space or time to form; they depend entirely on the decisions of the individual.


In today’s communities, we customize, curate, and personalize our own networks. Through LinkedIn, you can pick and choose your connections; through dating apps, you swipe for your relationships; and you elect to snap, text, and call the same group of individuals everyday.


Wellman refers to this phenomenon as “networked individualism,” and explains how it is “I” (or you), who must create, engage, grow and curate your own network.


In today’s communities, we customize, curate, and personalize our own networks. Through LinkedIn, you can pick and choose your connections; through dating apps, you swipe for your relationships; and you elect to snap, text, and call the same group of individuals everyday.

However, with fleeting, momentary, and temporary social interactions comes looser connections with your social network.


Changing Shape


Despite all these changes in the nature of our social and professional relationships, community hasn’t disappeared — it has just changed shape. And this can be a good thing.


Lee Rainie, the director of internet and technology research at the Pew Research Center, showed “how the large, loosely knit social circles of networked individuals expand opportunities for learning, problem-solving, decision making, and personal interaction.”


This shift has allowed us to build skills in balancing overlapping networks, challenging ourselves to meet new people, and personalizing our support system to match our specific needs. Your network could consist of a mentor in New York, a former college classmate in Austin, a colleague in San Francisco, and your friend group in Denver. There are no limitations to the circle that you create for yourself.


With this liberation can come an enormous burden. In this digital age, it’s not always easy to find your network. Allow us to take some of that personalization, customization, and network creation off of your plate.


While we may default to navigating our careers alone, it doesn’t have to continue that way. Pando believes that we are stronger as a community, and leans on the idea that we need each other to thrive. Inspired by this belief, we have curated a network of talented individuals ready to connect.


Our communities will continue to change. Our world will not revolve around places, but people and entities. What ties individuals together will define the next 10 years.


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