"Four pillars necessary to produce a thriving community" by: Callie Murray

J.Rich Atlanta believes in elevating influential voices in our community. Today, we hear from Callie Murray, the "Community Manager" of Plywood People; a local non-profit that leads a community of start ups doing good. Enjoy!


For a little over a year now, I have worked as the Community Manager for Plywood People, a non-profit leading a community of start-ups doing good through programming, events and connections. Each day, I witness a thriving community of thought leaders, working together to learn and grow and ultimately achieve more of the missions that drive them. I am consistently encouraged by the growth - in both the people and the organizations - that results.

Last year, I also took on a new role in the hopes of growing personal community, and I became the PTA President at my children’s elementary school. Spoiler alert: This move has not produced the results I was hoping for.

I’ve been wrestling through the idea of community all year, and I’ve landed on four major pillars that I believe are necessary to produce one that is thriving and growing.

Four pillars to produce a thriving community 

1. Belonging. Does each person feel like a member? Thanks to good ole PTA, I have learned that a title or a due doesn’t quite complete the transaction; there also must be that feeling of belonging. Do you have a voice? Do people know your name?

2. Shared mission/vision. Are you working together for a common goal? Perhaps it is a personal goal (ie at Plywood, each person is trying to grow their own organization), but it is a personal goal held by all. Do you share the same motivation?

3. Increased capacity. A thriving community pools resources - intellectual, financial, and social capital - to increase the overall capacity of what could be accomplished. As Plywood Advisor Jack Alexander explains, an individual has potential, limited and finite. However, a group of people can network together to form capacity, broad and limitless.

4. Low barriers. I think I could also phrase this, “It’s easy.” Is there an easy place - physical or online - to connect? Is there an expected tempo for connecting? Is it apparent how you become “in” the community? With the PTA, I started the year sending emails, to crickets. I then learned that our school’s population, vastly low income, didn’t have access to personal computers, and I learned to text. Emails were a barrier to community; texts made it easy.

an individual has potential, limited and finite. However, a group of people can network together to form capacity, broad and limitless.
— Jack Alexander

If you are looking for a community around your work and mission, I invite you to look into Plywood People and to contact me (callie@plywoodpeople.com) for more information. As we say here, we believe that better is possible, and we know that community is vital to making that true.

Callie Murray