The Growth of Authentic Community

authentic community Jan 22, 2018
by Sara Ness

I don’t know why, but in the last few weeks I’ve been getting messages like this regularly.

Perhaps it’s The Atlantic article that came out last month that brought Authentic Relating more into the mainstream.

Perhaps it’s the spread of communities through people like Bridgett, who are touching more and more people.

Perhaps it’s Youtube videos, or manuals, or word of mouth, or the new Authentic Relating training companies emerging, or all of the above!

Either way, it’s really cool to see. From the ALFT and other trainings in the past few years, there are now communities in Seattle, Boston, Burlington, DC, Dallas, Hawaii, England, Amsterdam, and more (you can see most of them on the map. Seattle’s community is featured in the picture on this post). I got a flyer this week from a Burlington facilitator for AR Games after a church service!

It feels like we are truly becoming a movement, and the possibility of spreading relational skills beyond inner communities is growing every day.

For example, the two communities who most recently went through an ALFT, Seattle and DC, formed vision statements in the last couple weeks that I think are beautiful.

“We are a community unleashing our aliveness through self-expression, connection, and bearing witness to each other.” – Authentic Seattle

“Authentic DC works across the DMV to promote authentic relating, self-exploration, empathy and compassion. We offer Authentic Relating Games nights, Circling Labs, workshops, retreats, and informal gatherings designed to take participants beyond small talk and into a deeper exploration of themselves and community. Our organization comprises facilitators of different ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds who are all committed to inclusivity and sharing our tools with people of every demographic.” – Authentic D.C.

It’s timely. As the loneliness epidemic grows in our culture, communities like these are fighting back the tide. I’m so excited about the possibilities…and, with the success of these new groups, I’ve been ever more aware of what’s come before.

The Old and the New

I spent this past weekend in Boulder, celebrating and mourning the imminent close of the Integral Center. The mothership of Authentic Relating and Circling practice will close its doors this March, after the last Authentic Man Program and Alethia to be held there.

I realized how much of my learning and success has come from the space and people of the Integral Center. For 6 years I’ve traveled to Boulder to learn and train, sometimes as often as once a month, and never less than three or four times a year.

Robbie Carlton or Jason Basgall – I can’t remember which –  held my first circle. Decker Cunov and Alexis Sheppard trained me in that practice. Michael Porcelli was the first to mentor me in founding community. Robert MacNaughton was a constant presence as the heart and face of the center. Jason Digges gave me a job in the basement and later invited me in to teach. Josh Levin, Jess Nichol, Matt Porcelli, Melody Markel, Jake Bornstein, all have been mentors and collaborators at different times. I feel like half of the city has offered me housing on trips.

It seems like Authentic Relating and Circling are on the rise these days. As the mothership of our practices closes, the practices themselves, and their leaders, are spreading wings. I love watching it happen and taking part. But one thing I became aware of this weekend is just how much I owe to those who have supported my wings thus far. I like to say that being a good leader is becoming the air that people breathe, their biggest “fan” (hahaha. I’ve never said that pun before, but I will now!). The IC has been my air. As a building and as a community, it’s been my incubator, my womb.

Now that others are standing on my shoulders to reach the stars, I’m even more aware of those who lifted me this high.

I can never be grateful enough.

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