A Veteran's Day Reflection on Temporal Community

posted by
Lance Decker,
LL Decker & Associates, Inc

I returned from this Monday's Veteran’s Day Parade with a lingering sense of connection this year. My wife had a luncheon date so I went to the parade alone. To honor the occasion I wore a patriotic ball cap, a t-shirt that said, “Marine Dad,” and I hung my old Army garrison cap over my belt. I’d been watching the parade for an hour or so when a unit of Vietnam War era soldiers marched past. One guy in the unit looked over at me standing in the crowd, pointed at my garrison cap, and gave me a thumbs up. He saw the quarter-sized metal insignia on the cap that identified me as being in the Army Transportation Corps and as a UH-1 helicopter mechanic. That’s all it took. I smiled, nodded my head “yes,” and flashed a thumbs-up back to him. Without a single word we were connected. The affiliation was clear. He marched on and I walked home feeling part of a community I’d left 40 years ago. We had the common experience, like 10 million others, of having served in the military between 1962 and 1975.

Communities are funny things. As an academic I teach the “three conditions” that are required for a community to exist. The first is a common mission or experience. The second is a set of rules or laws that members agree to accept. The third is a system of governance for promulgating the rules, assuring compliance, and effecting change. Every biological community requires these “three conditions” to survive and thrive, but sometimes I am amazed with my lack of visceral understanding when the academic is transformed into a very real and personal experience.

Creating, Building, and Sustaining Nonprofit Communities

posted by
Hannah Humphrey,

Public Allies Arizona Alumna /
Outreach Coordinator,


What does it mean to be a community organization? Nonprofit professionals use the word "community" a lot. We talk about serving the community, building community, and engaging community. But sometimes we forget that "the community" is not just an abstract demographic.

I'm lucky to live and work in downtown Chandler, a community with an active merchants' association and a city that is very interested in creating a sense of place. What I've learned from Chandler is that community is not a place — it's a practice. This community works because we know our neighbors, because we look out for each other, and because, sometimes, we care enough to argue with each other. I see community when the barber shop next door to my office holds packages that were delivered when we were out. I see community when business owners get up early to go to a meeting about parking restrictions. I see community when someone asks me for a recommendation, and I can say, "Sure, I know exactly who can help you. They're just down the street."

If you're looking for ways to find community, the best strategy I've seen is Asset Based Community Development (thanks Public Allies!), which uses the strengths that already exist in a community to effect positive change. You can click here to read more about the theory, or you can start exploring the resources near you with an asset map.