The Features of DecidingToBeBetter Communities
by Marshall Brain
Every DecidingToBeBetter Community is unique, and there are many different flavors, as discussed on this page. However, there is a common set of features shared by all DecidingToBeBetter Communities. These features include:
In other words, DecidingToBeBetter members pick aspects of their own lives that they hope to improve, as well as aspects of their communities and the world that they want to be better, and they work to make them better. They are deciding to be better each day. DecidingToBeBetter members often pick a problem they would like to help solve. They might join an effort already underway to solve the problem. They might find like-minded people and begin a new effort to solve the problem. They might work individually to solve the problem. This same mindset holds true for any kind of project, whether it is a small personal enrichment project or a attempt to completely eliminate the problem of global hunger in our world. In all of these efforts, we are deciding to be better, both individually and as a species.
- An at-least weekly gathering (in many communities more than once a week) of as many community members as possible in one place for face-to-face friendship. Sunday morning is a common time for these whole-community gatherings, but any day/time during the week is possible depending on the preferences of the community. The format of a gathering is as unique as the community, but may include: a) a life lesson - a story of goodness, and lesson in moral/ethical behavior, a reminder of a key value, etc., b) a review of progress in the community's different projects, including updates on internal classes, community outreach, our efforts internally to make ourselves better, etc. c) Activities that encourage interaction/mixing/making new friends/sharing time with each other as human beings - Strengthening the network, strengthening our connections to each other. Who wouldn't want to get together with a group of people like this? A group of people who shared these qualities is an amazing group to spend time with.
- These gatherings are often accompanied by a shared meal. There is also an emphasis on sharing meals as a whole community and in smaller groups in as many different ways as possible.
- The DecidingToBeBetter goals are reaffirmed at each gathering.
- The activities that encourage interaction/mixing/making new friends/sharing time with each other are ongoing. One of the key features of a DecidingToBeBetter Community is the friendships we form with other members. Therefore the community actively works to mix people together in new groups doing fun/interesting activites, having parties, sharing meals together, etc. to strengthen the friendship process. It is recognized and understood that, for a lot of people, "socializing" and "meeting new people" is not necessarily a comfortable process, so DecidingToBeBetter Communities work hard to make the process easier and a lot more fun.
- DecidingToBeBetter Community members are all working actively to be better. This can happen in many different ways, and one way is through classes led by DecidingToBeBetter members or outside instructors. Think of all the different aspects of your life where you might like to be better. At this point in your life you may to trying to:
- Be better physically, by controlling your weight, exercising regularly, etc. Health and fitness are important to DecidingToBeBetter members because health and fitness improve happiness.
- Be better as a spouse, through marriage classes, marriage enrichment programs, etc.
- Be better as a person, by improving your qualities as a person. You may be trying to improve morally and ethically, in terms of kindness and compassion, etc.
- Be better financially, through financial classes encouraging financial understanding and planning.
- Be better in your career.
- Be better as a parent.
- And so on...
- In addition, there may be all kinds of interesting, enriching classes that DecidingToBeBetter members are taking - everything from karate to crafts, languages to job skills.
- DecidingToBeBetter Community members work together to make their lives better as a group. For example, parents might organize a soccer league for their kids, members might organize an aerobics group that works out regularly, they might plan trips and outings as a group, organize community activities, etc.
- Volunteering is a big part of any DecidingToBeBetter Community because it powers the group. DecidingToBeBetter Community members are active volunteers inside the organization. They volunteer to run classes, to organize events, etc.
- DecidingToBeBetter Community members are thinking about projects to help in their communities and around the world, and their helping can take many forms. For example, DecidingToBeBetter Community members might:
DecidingToBeBetter Communities often have one or more "signature projects" as well as other efforts.
- Organize a food bank to help local families that have become unemployed
- Help build a new park on vacant land
- Provide an outreach program for poor kids downtown
- Provide emergency relief after a hurricane or earthquake
- Create a web site to help people with ride sharing
- Provide services for homeless veterans
- Help the elderly at a local hospice or dialysis center
- Create a diet program to help reduce obesity (and therefore a number of diseases) in the community
- Contribute to worldwide efforts to eliminate malaria
- Create programs to make clean drinking water easily available in developing countries
- And so on
- DecidingToBeBetter Communities and the DecidingToBeBetter National Organization give out awards at the chapter, community, national and global levels to recognize people and projects that manifest DecidingToBeBetter ideals. Think of something like the Nobel Prizes at the community, national and global levels, all designed to recognize efforts that make our lives as human beings better.
- DecidingToBeBetter Communities host DecidingToBeBetter events. DecidingToBeBetter classes (e.g. weight loss) and activites (e.g. soccer) can be both inward facing, designed specifically to help DecidingToBeBetter community members, or outward facing, designed as local events that bring information, servies and awareness to the local area. Another type of event might be a fund raising drive sponsored by DecidingToBeBetter that helps a project in the local community. DecidingToBeBetter members might organize a project or work crew and then invite members of the broader community to join the effort. These events have the additional benefit of raising awareness of DecidingToBeBetter in the local area and spreading interest among new members.
- All DecidingToBeBetter Communities decide how they are going to handle money. Some communities are money-free. Some collect weekly or monthly dues. Some take voluntary donations in the form of passing-the-plate at gatherings and hosting fund-raising activities/events. And so on. The members abide by the community's decision, or they transfer their membership to a different DecidingToBeBetter community with a different money policy.
- All DecidingToBeBetter Communities recognize and actively celebrate all of the Festivals and ceremonies of DecidingToBeBetter.
- All of the members of every DecidingToBeBetter Communitity are helping each other work toward the ideal; toward the highest level of moral and ethical behavior; toward the deepest levels of friendship.
We gather together as a DecidingToBeBetter Community to help ourselves, to help each other, to help our local community and to help the world.