Building Community In a Big City

On my quest to write about inspiring people who were making a difference, I realized I needed to start in my own back yard.  I live at Studioplex, a loft community in Atlanta.  It is difficult to build community in a sprawling city like Atlanta.  I have lived many places in Atlanta, all nice looking, but nonetheless isolating.  So why doesn’t Studioplex feel isolating?  It is because people who live and work here prioritize community.
Community website
When I first moved here, I met Lynn Lamousin.  I later learned that she started the  Little Free Library here at Studioplex.  One day walking past the library it struck me and and I said to myself, “that’s pretty good at life right there.”  It’s the little things.  I knew it was only a matter of time before I wrote about Lynn and the coolest little library ever.
Little free 6
                                                                                                    Photograph by John Fulton 
I sat down and spoke with Lynn and learned more about the project.  Lynn learned about the Little Free Library organization at the Decatur Book Festival.  The Little Free Library works on a give a book, take a book system.  Lynn, a professional writer and owner of Kitty Boy Creations, has always dreamed of having her own small independent book store, but it has never been feasible.  When she saw the idea for the Little Free Library, she decided to pair her enthusiasm for books and community into a new project.
She had one problem, however.  None of the designs available to buy at the Decatur Book Festival  really spoke to her.  So, she decided to have a library custom designed and built by her friend Thomas Babineau, a local Atlanta craftsman.   Tom delivered a one of a kind piece.  The library is built out of recycled / repurposed materials in order to support the spirit of the little free movement – reading, recycling, and community.  It fits perfectly at Studioplex.  Lynn says that each morning she is excited to see what books have been added / taken  and that it is impossible to predict with any accuracy what is going to move quickly and what is going to stay a while.
So what is the secret to building community in a big city?  The formula is simple.
Create – make something unique.
Give – give it away or share it.
Connect – help people feel more human by giving them a reason to connect with others.
It really is tough to connect in a city of millions, but if you follow those three steps, you will be well on your way.  If you would like to find more information for your own little free library, you can follow this link to the Decatur Book Festival page.
What have you seen others do to sustainably and creatively build community?  I’d be interested in hearing about it.  Contact me here or tweet me at be_pgal.

2 thoughts on “Building Community In a Big City

  1. Jen Black

    This is what my whole life is about – work, church, neighborhood, all of it! From designing zones to starting community gardens, this is what I do all day…I love it. Worthy cause. Keep up the good work.


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