What does community mean in a 21st-century urban environment? Today we are connected in ways that we could never have imagined a few decades ago, but for many of us there seems to be something missing. We may have hundreds of friends through social networks, but have never met our neighbors. We have a desire to do good, but struggle to get civically engaged. We want a safe place to explore life's meaning, but few outlets to go deep without having particular dogma's pushed upon us.
Middle Circle began by gathering Bay Area residents to engage in a human centered design process to better understand the challenges of community making in progressive urban areas. During their research phase they found a level of community, the middle circle, missing in the lives of many urbanites today. A middle circle is intended to sit between your closest friends, family, and loved ones–your inner circle–and the outer circle of acquaintances that you occasionally connect with while running errands or attending a social event. This sort of community is comprised of people of various ages and backgrounds, providing support and care for us in times of need and offering diverse view-points and perspectives. Traditionally this type of community has often been supplied through religious institutions, but today most Bay Area residents are not affiliated with religious communities. Despite the changes, many of us still seek and desire a connected, nourishing community. Middle Circle is a new San Francisco nonprofit that is working to create these authentic, spiritual but not religious, “church-like” communities.
Middle Circle communities nourish people by fostering meaning-making, belonging, openness, service and common values. Community members can build deep, compassionate relationships through meaningful conversations and fun activities. Click here to explore the emerging Middle Circle groups, including:
Philosophy: Monthly gatherings. Each session is led by a community member and explores an age-old philosophical question: Is human nature Good or Evil? What is the Cosmos? What happens when we die?
Brewosophy: Middle Cirlce's beer brewing guild. Beer-brewing, good company, and meaningful conversations at St. Cyprian’s Community Kitchen.
Spirituality and Brunch: This circle meets monthly to explore a spiritual tradition, then eats brunch afterward to discuss the experience. Need not be religious to join.
Social Good: This group gathers to collaborate for social good. This month, they are creating lovely experiences and art for a community member who is going through health troubles. Next month, they will be making a meal for a local shelter.
Inter/Intra Faith Book Study: This circle will gather regularly to promote interfaith dialogue and harmony. Launch gathering will look at the figure of Jesus in Islam and Christianity.
Pop-up Yoga: Guided community yoga sessions in unique locations throughout San Francisco. All levels welcome!
Improv: Silliness, absurdity, and improv games on the last Wednesday of each month. Free classes with a suggested donation of $5-15. BYOB.
7 Gens: This circle is all about fostering intergenerational relationships through fun activities. The kickoff gathering is a bowling night set for Oct. 9.
Check out middlecircle.org for more information. Join a circle, share ideas for new circle, and learn how you can help foster curiosity, community, and social good.
Middle Circle is planning a larger-scale community event, intended to inspire and entertain on Nov. 14 at The Red Victorian in San Francisco. More information coming soon!