On Collective Meaning Making

or Community Art

We are meaning-making machines, constantly interpreting and reinterpreting the world around us. We see faces in the foliage, craft stories from the mundane, and infuse every narrative with a piece of ourselves. This intrinsic drive to find meaning is central to our human condition. 

love balloon - a community artwork on Farcaster Feb '24

Much of this meaning-making happens in isolation, confined within our individual minds. Yet we all crave connection and belonging. We yearn for our personal narratives to intertwine with those of others, to find resonance and reflection in a collective story.

"Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time." - Thomas Merton

Community artworks serve as collective stories, encapsulating our identities, ideas, and sense of belonging. They transcend the individual, weaving together the threads of personal experiences into a tapestry of communal identity. At their best, these artworks speak of our shared sense of time and place, of who we are and where we belong.

Some communities have thrived for millennia, rooted in religious or national identities. Others are defined by the project they are working on, or an event attended. Regardless of their foundation, each community is made stronger and more coherent through creative expression. Art-making, in its many forms, provides agency; it allows us to shape our world and assert our presence within it. This act of creation is a form of power, a declaration of existence and significance.

When art-making becomes a collective endeavour, it amplifies this power, weaving a sense of belonging into the creative process. It's akin to the collective experience of being part of a crowd at a stadium, where the shared energy and unity are palpable. Football songs, with their raw and visceral nature, exemplify this form of community art. They are more than chants; they are affirmations of identity and belonging, resonating deeply with those who sing them. In these moments, we do more than proclaim the superiority of our team; we articulate who we are collectively. These 'songs'--whether literal or metaphorical--carry forward our sense of belonging, power, and expression. They help shape the world we inhabit and aspire to create.

I aspire to make meaning on this level, that binds purposeful communities closer together, making them more powerful to shape our world, in all its malleable form, into something richer, more connected, more meaningful.

By engaging in community art, we contribute to a collective narrative that is greater than the sum of its parts. We reinforce our identity and values, building a shared vision of the future. This collective creativity not only strengthens our bonds but also propels us towards a world that reflects our collective aspirations.

I am building CoCreated to enable communities, teams and events to make meaning together, making them stronger. CoCreated is being built as co-owned organisation, if you are interested in contributing to its growth let me know.

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