Can WE be a Community, Please?

March 13, 2018

Community.  Let’s talk about community-how to build one, strengthen one, create the intersections and ties that, when harmonized, give us a sense of place.  That sense of place where you can truly be just you.  The cool kids now call this a Tribe.

Each of you might define community differently.  It can be a social media group, two neighbors or church organization.  A community can have just about any make-up you want. A tie that binds communities is that they ebb and flow around a common theme or idea.  In doing this they make the world a smaller more intimate place.

I have a ton of communities- the mom community at my daughter’s school, my yoga community, my seafood community of friends, my seafood community of colleagues, my neighbors, Girl Scouts, and the list goes on and on….

When I simplify it, my list divides itself two ways; my professional communities and my personal ones.  Today I want to focus on my professional communities—seafood and yoga.  I’m sure you see the obvious connections that I too have always seen.  Ok, probably not but let me explain.

I LOVE my yoga community. There is a science beyond the practice of yoga.  It is more than just the asanas (postures), the breath or the community that it builds.  As a yoga teacher, it’s a place where I can help people learn about something that is crucial in my life and has been for decades. I am not just imparting some random wisdom about how to move from pose to pose but rather how interpret the real you with a sense of peace and power all at the same time. 

 

The equivalent is true in my parallel universe—the world of sustainable seafood.  Seafood is inherent in our cultures, key to our building blocks of protein, and it too builds communities-around the table of which we sit to eat.

 

I travel the globe teaching and talking about sustainable seafood not just to hear my own voice but to listen to others because seafood holds the same virtues as yoga- it can bring fulfillment (defined differently by all) and power (again, insert your interpretation of power here).  But I am specifically writing about fulfillment of a need to eat well and the strength that it gives us too, “live strong”.

 

Recently I noticed two things about communities that, in retrospect, may have been there long before I took notice.  They are these. Some communities form themselves around exclusion rather than inclusion.  Others take the opposite approach—you can’t be taken seriously if you’re not in our community.

 

In my case, neither approach works at all well to advance important goals. In the case of yoga and yoga healing, people can enjoy all the benefits of a yogic lifestyle or practice a few times a week without becoming a dogmatic adherent to somebody who seems to be building a cult of personality. I like to call those folks the Instagrammies.

Likewise, the seafood world regularly practices the art of the circular firing squad. Membership in one or another community excludes you from the others and often earns gratuitous criticism.  There is community around wild harvest fishermen, aquaculture farmers, environmental groups, techies, foodies, dietitians, nutritionists, chefs, retailers and on and on and on.  Just like above, I always want to learn everything and know everyone.  That means you end up just like that old saying, “ You know a little about everything and a lot about nothing.”  People in the seafood industry just like yoga, start to pull you in “their” direction and you begin to doubt what you believe, doubt the science and doubt your life’s work.  To what end?  Well, seafood consumption hasn’t changed a whit since 1985.  Flatter than a pancake or flounder.

 

While the instagrammies have spawned a yoga industry that is worth billions of dollars, it has also left behind some of the most thoughtful parts of yoga such as meditation and looking inward to find strength and healing through your own breath.  In this mad rush to have that yoga booty- a lot of people who could benefit most from the practice have been left behind in its wake.