The table was set with salads and sweets, the lighting in the studio was low and the last rays of the setting sun filtered through the windows. More women arrived and we squeezed in two, three, four more chairs. Our first monthly Potluck + Perspectives began with a question:
What is community to you?
Community is ubuntu, interbeing, coming to know ourselves in relationship with all that surrounds us.
Community is where souls gather to be seen.
Community is hard to find when your friends move into different life stages
As we stuffed ourselves with vegan chilli and homemade truffles, we moved through topics from community building tips for online entrepreneurs to the challenge of honouring your boundaries as a community leader. We wrapped up with everyone lending a hand washing dishes, lingering in the kitchen chatting before going out into the autumn night.
Western society is starting to feel the impact of our fragmented, digital age in very real ways. Vivek Murthy, a former US Surgeon General has called loneliness an epidemic. Loneliness is associated with health risks from cardiovascular disease to anxiety, and this month’s Harvard Business Review cover story explores how it impairs our performance at work, limiting creativity, reasoning, and decision making.
Connected workplaces can be part of the antidote to this epidemic.
“Designing and modeling a culture that supports connection is more important than any single program” says Murthy, adding that “real connection requires creating an environment that embraces the unique identities and experiences of employees inside and outside the workplace” and citing kindness, compassion and generosity as the foundations of these relationships.
At Shecosystem, we are creating a workplace that is centred in a sense of belonging and supportive of genuine connections. In a recent survey, 55% of our members reported feeling less lonely and 67% said they felt an increased sense of belonging.
Here are five ways we do this:
- We gather daily for Opening and Closing Circles where community members and guests reflect on what is going on in their lives and how it impacts their work
- We model vulnerability, even at the leadership level. Members know that they can ask for help with their businesses and are open to receiving it.
- Our events are not about passively learning new skills but about coming together to actively exchange information and perspectives. Events like Potluck & Perspectives let members and guests step up, share wisdom and ask each other questions about business. Our monthly Red Tents are co-created circles where we can be emotionally open, spiritually connected, and present for each other in a compassionate and generous way.
- The small size of our space creates a safe and intimate environment, while shared tables and open spaces allow for spontaneous connections to happen.
- Touch is important for connection, and you’re likely to get a hug – or five – every time you come in.
As we approach one year since the doors opened at Shecosystem, these genuine connections continue to deepen. And I know that they will sustain me as I prepare for a long, cold winter.
If loneliness is an epidemic, Shecosystem is good medicine.
Join our coworking community for as little as $30/month.
Check out our memberships here.
Emily Rose Antflick is Shecosystem’s founder and Chief Community Cultivator. With an M.A. in Education, Emily spent a decade teaching and creating transformative educational journeys in Canada and internationally. After experiencing a pervasive sense of depletion in her personal and professional life, Emily turned her attention to helping women like herself get unstuck and cultivate heart-centred communities that empower them to be their best selves. Emily proves that having a singular passion is not the only way to succeed: in addition to being an entrepreneur, she is a Rite of Passage facilitator, Permaculture Designer and dancer. Emily was a winner of the Startup Canada Women Founders Fund and has been profiled as a Woman of Influence and a local feminist to watch.