Building A Positive Community Rooted in Self Love — Part 1

Equitable and sustainable housing opportunities, economic security, good physical and environmental health, peace and safety are some of the challenging conditions many face while living in African-American communities. Often, those communities are overflowing with dilapidated and condemned buildings and homes that lack greenery. The neighborhoods are filled with crime and pollution, and they’re surrounded by food deserts and inadequate schools. These concerns do not represent a positive and thriving community. When big businesses help address the negative social issues, instead of the quality of life improving for those already living in the community, they get pushed out by increasing housing costs. Many no longer feel welcome in the place they once called home as it quickly becomes unrecognizable.

Building a positive community involves many moving and collaborative parts. Sustainable and inclusive community growth requires strong leaders (politicians, builders, investors, planners, etc.) and members who have a keen understanding of the social and historical aspects of the community. The shared visions between the community’s leadership and its members must align to formulate decisions based on several disciplines of science, one of which must consist of the science of love.

5 Ways Love Can Win Battles — In Yourself & in Your Community

The wellbeing of a positive community requires love. But the love for others begins inside of you as self-love. Hip-hop dancer, rapper and actress, Teyana Taylor says it well, “Self-love Is the best love.” When you love yourself first, you can more fully love others and receive love from them.

So, what does self-love look like? It’s developed by practicing the following.

1. Self-Awareness: Understanding who we are encourages us to pay attention to people, places and opportunities around us. When we are aware, we are more likely to consider the needs of others. We’re also more likely to improve, create and resolve the issues and concerns happening around us. Essentially, we’re more empowered to consider our actions and how they affect others and ourselves.

In community building, self-awareness is effective because you start to consider how your interests and talents may provide a positive impact. Then questions are asked like: How can you help others understand your needs? Are there creative and innovative solutions you can suggest?

2. Self-Care: Learn and practice how to bring your best intentions to the community by taking the necessary steps to improve and protect its wellbeing. At the most foundational level, have discussions about the betterment of the community with those responsible for development decisions and planning. The more active and engaged you are, the more information and tools you gain to meet your needs and hold others accountable. 

Figure out how you can get involved most effectively. Can you learn and share social and historical facts that address community needs and concerns? Are you able to engage in the planning process with leaders to voice your expectations and concerns? Will you ask for help when needed? Becoming a community leader means engaging others to ensure inclusive and successful outcomes by inviting as many diversified perspectives and backgrounds as possible to the planning table.

3. Self-Respect: Behave with honor and dignity. Know you are worthy to live in a safe and thriving community. Expect respect. Treat others as you expect to be treated. Believe you deserve the unlimited possibilities that great community growth brings.

Ask yourself: Do you believe you deserve the best? Are you working hard to take pride in your accomplishments? Are you doing what you know is right? Are you proud of the things you do for your community? Your answers should all be “YES!”

4. Self-Discipline: Improve your ability to control your actions and feelings. Work to overcome your issues or concerns in the community. When things in the community are not right, do you speak up and stand up for what is right? When is the most appropriate time to speak and with whom?

Pay attention, listen and engage in conversation for change before decisions are made. Be part of the planning process. As a member or leader, you need to be responsible enough to control your actions and behavior.

5. Self-Connections: Networking with people, organizations and businesses that care about your community needs, plays an important part in community building. Develop quality relationships by surrounding yourself with people that support you for the best outcomes. Speak to the people you support or those who support you without assumptions or preconceptions. Share your vision to develop a unified, collaborative vision for your community as a whole.

We are all important to the community — both leaders and members — and we all must remember the importance of self-love. It truly is necessary to love others more fully. It encourages us to speak up when someone treats us good or bad, and it reminds us to consider whether our actions and behaviors are appropriate. Building a positive community of love begins with you.