"Community" is, from my perspective, an overused and often misunderstood concept.
Ask 100 people to define "community", and you'll likely get at least a couple of dozen different answers. For one thing, many of us tend to parse our individual "worlds" into what may be loosely defined as "the real" and "the virtual". On occasion, the two intersect.
We read and talk a lot about various "online" communities, such as Facebook, Myspace, Linkedin, the various "Ning" sites, and any number of other sites which facilitate the sharing of words and images over the internet. Is this "community"...or merely "cyber-snacking"?
The (often) less-popular, outmoded type of community is the messy, face-to-face, up-close and personal, "I'm not okay and neither are you" means of connecting with people which requires more investment of time, energy, patience, etc. than the online version. It is not enough to copy, cut and paste, or to google a pithy thought of the day in relationships of the first-person kind.
What must one do in order to foster a sense of community--either online or in person? I have a few thoughts on the subject, but would like to hear from some of you before weighing in...