My partner works in construction – in inspections to be more specific – and he sometimes speaks disparagingly of architects. They are artists, but sometimes fall so much in love with their beautiful vision that they neglect the practical (like electrical panels) and the efficient (like preferring all glass). And the world needs people to imagine beautiful things… as long as there are also some practical people around to tell them that they need to include railings on their balconies, even if that ruins the graceful lines of the building.
Paganism has a lot of great “architects”: people with great, beautiful visions. Some of those people are even able to execute their great ideas, having the right combination of leadership skills and practical expertise to make projects a reality. The dearth of training for Pagan leaders in most communities means that qualified folks can be at a premium, and the results can be seen in many a dysfunctional group or organization and in many a beautiful vision that never comes to pass.
I still think that’s an issue, but there’s another role we seem low on: tummlers. A tummler in the realm of coworking is one who incites others to action. In coworking, in fact, they have extended and explored that meaning to show how a person can nurture a community without managing it.
If you are perceived as a leader in a community, people will come to you with “you know what you should do…”. I get a lot of that in my day job in coworking, and I’ve seen Pagans get it too. And I’ve seen both coworking folks and Pagan leaders become burned out as a result of trying to turn all those suggestions into reality by themselves. A skilled tummler turns “you know what you should do” into “you know what I can do” and connects people together. And they show up. Tummlers set an example of how community works by showing up and doing their part; they just don’t have to be the foreperson.
I can hear it: “But if I don’t do it, no one will.” This approach will mean that some beautiful visions will never be created. But hopefully it’ll mean we will have more people doing more things, and fewer people burning out. Become a tummler and get those architects building! And when you meet people with “boring” skills like budgeting and writing bylaws, encourage them to join in on projects and help keep the dreamers from spending all their money on one aspect or accidentally breaking the rules. Don’t supervise; connect, promote, and cheerlead!
The biggest mistake you can make it community building is trying to do it on your own.*
*Paraphrasing Alex Hillman.