CLASS just recently had our 65th Annual Meeting and upheld most of the traditions and actions we have done in past years. This meeting, and the annual aspects of this gathering got me to think about the importance of continuity and rituals in everyday life.
In thinking about relationships and social capital we know that similarity and regularity are 2 key features that are at the core of "bridging and bonding." When people see and experience similarity it creates a connection. Such is the case with rituals. When we come to know what is expected of us in social situations, the rituals, patterns, jargon and such, these social activities signal a similarity to other people in the culture, and fuel the endorsement and penetration of the new person into the culture.
These social rituals also add to the memory and the depth of the group. At our annual meeting this year, we gave an award, honored retiring board members, welcomed new people to the fold, and cemented another chapter in the life path of the organization. All of these things build memory and add to the lure of the culture. As new members experience these rituals, they will be added to the memory and hasten their alignment with the organization.
So what about your community groups; what are their rituals and expectations? Does the group work to include new members and help them understand these important elements? More, what can you do as a member of the group to assure that new members feel welcomed and involved in the culture and social rituals?