One at a time.

How do we build community?

Many people have asked me this in the past couple of years. Like many other questions, there is no simple answer.

Actually, let me retract that. The way to build community is one person at a time. I think the “how” in How Do We Build Community comes from that.

It’s hard to imagine building a wide, resourceful, vibrant community one voice at a time. Maybe you live in a rural area, and you only come into contact with so many people every day. In your case, or even in more populous places with greater resources, let’s face it, one by one sounds like it would take a very long time.

Yet, somehow, we’ve managed to do it. We have huge organizations that provide education, funds for research, publishes the latest findings, and advocates for us before elected officials. There are also organizations that work on one or two specific aspects of living with diabetes, and they help all of us in concentrating on just those things they know well.

In addition, there are groups that work with People With Diabetes on issues that they might be experiencing all on their own. Someone who seeks help with things that are bigger than they are, but sensitive enough that they require a specialized approach. Where would we be without that one on one interaction in those cases?

How about the doctors, nurses, Certified Diabetes Educators, and other healthcare professionals who help us live the healthiest form of diabetes possible? There’s a chance to add a few more people to your community.

Let’s not forget the device makers who make CGMs and insulin pumps, and the drug makers who are finally getting around to faster acting insulins and biosimilars, and are developing even more effective Type 2 medications. They charge us an arm and a leg to stay alive, but they are undoubtedly an important part of our existence.

And I can’t forget the bloggers, podcasters, and Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat devotees who share their stories for the masses, emphatically putting the Online in Diabetes Online Community.

When I really think about it, I can see that my own diabetes community began with one person: Me, at the time of my diagnosis. From there, it has grown one, or sometimes two or three people at a time, until after 27 years, I feel like I have an army of people all pulling for me to succeed.

That’s pretty powerful. And it leaves me with kind of a dual responsibility: keep the community growing by welcoming others. And use my place in this powerful community for good. My success exists thanks in part to countless individuals associated with the groups I’ve noted above. Now it’s my turn to give, and help others. So, let me ask you:

How do you build community?

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