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A Word that Describes a Community

I need a word or two that describes what is unique about a community gathered for a common purpose, life experience or need.  Communities like CCMC, youth incarcerated and living in a prison, those affected by a natural disaster etc. 
What is a word that sums up the uniqueness of a community?
I am working on Our Musical Life Inc.’s mission statement.  Thanks for any help.
Replies (15): Threaded | Chronological
on June 9, 2014 3:13pm
Do you mean its function? In that case we would need to know more about that specific community. Or are you looking for things like synergistic, or collaborative?
on June 9, 2014 3:39pm
A functional word like "visage" or "essence" rather than the fragrance of a specific community.
on June 9, 2014 4:35pm
Have written and edited many mission statements for nonprofit orgs over the years.  Happy to take a look at your draft if you think it would be helpful.
In the meantime, here is the URL of a great short article that provides specific tips and examples:
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 9, 2014 7:19pm
Hi Jack,
A few words that come to mind are "active, helpful, useful."
God Bless,
Michael Sandvik
on June 9, 2014 10:04pm
Here's the working draft:
"Our Musical Life Inc. seeks to entertain and engage virtual and real-world communities gathered around a common need, life experience or fandom through live and video performances tailored to their collective uniqueness and the creation of new and derivative works."
We will be adding a second sentence about serving communities that are not already served.  We intend on running choirs for our local homeless shelter, the youthful offenders housed at our local prison, cognitively and mentally disabled adults, maybe an LGBT choir and a choir for middle school kids.  We already run Children's Choir of teh Internet for kids in grades 2-6 and a multigenerational choir called the Racine Community Choir for families.   
Note we are in the business of creating new music.  I still want to lead a composition/performance project in honor of our ChoralNet founder and am close to having a non-profit that can receive and distribute funds to make the project function.  We fully intend on being able to work with and support activities for CCMC as we (CCMC) are not a legit stand alone organization.   
I have the vision, just need the boots on the ground (or on the risers actually).
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 10, 2014 7:12am
Your enterprise reminded me of the group "Singers of the Street" in SF, CA:
A quick edit of your mission statement:
"Our Musical Life, Inc., provides a life-enhancing, self-confidence-building, and stress-reducing opportunity for groups of marginalized or disadvantaged people to sing in their own unique choirs, write new choral music, and perform both live and online."
This mission statement answers the question of WHY you are doing it, specifically HOW you are doing it, and WHO you are doing it for.  It doesn't get into too much detail (it doesn't need to), and allows for much freedom regarding exactly which groups you will serve.
If you will be doing any fundraising, I would not use the word "fandom" anywhere.  I know where you're coming from, but "fans" are not "needy" according to nonprofit definitions.  The word "entertain" should also not be used. 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 10, 2014 7:25am
P.S.  It's also a good idea to set some geographic or other boundary for your work.  So, after the word "people" you could add the name of a city, county, state, or region to your mission statement, but only if you are really going to confine yourself to a specific area.  Be very careful, however, in communicating too broad a reach, one that would appear quite unrealistic to potential funders, etc.
For example, if I were running the org, I could write:  "Our Musical Life, Inc., provides a life-enhancing, self-confidence-building, and stress-reducing opportunity for groups of marginalized or disadvantaged people living in Deschutes County, Oregon, to sing in their own unique choirs, write new choral music, and perform both live and online."
on June 10, 2014 8:38am
The most important thing is to write a mission statement that will clearly communicate to and impress potential funders: individuals, charitable groups, businesses, and grantmaking organizations.  If you craft your mission statement for potential funders, you will automatically succeed in writing something that will satisfy everyone else.
on June 10, 2014 5:20am
Hi Jack,
the world is definitely "share", "sharing". This is the reason I am involved in singing spiritruals (American Spirituals) as they are community builders songs, they definitely support and even EXPRESS (radiate) the sharing of the common experience. That makes people more close to each other, to understand more each other, to feel empathy to other community members.
That´s my answer
Marek Slechta
on June 11, 2014 1:32pm
Julia gave some good answers.  I'd only say, Jack, on first glance you seem to be saying, "who cares what it means, help me make words so I can get more money to support things I like to do".   I don't believe that's a good policy, though I can't deny some people travel through life that way.   And I hope it's not the true subtext of your query!
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 11, 2014 2:44pm
Wow, that is disturbing.  Thank-you for pointing it out.  That certainly is not what I am trying to say and is actually the opposite critique I have gotten from our board.  They want it to be more concise so that we can attract funding while I am trying to find a way to say what is unique about what we do.  The two do not have to be mutually exclusive.  I view online communities the way travelling musicians and theater groups used to view the small towns along a railroad corridor.  Each community is unique and worthy of specific entertainments being developed for them.  I also see the various communities within my geographic area as unique and worthy of entertainments being developed for them and opportunities for corporate musical expression and conduits to find a sense of meaning and belonging through choral singing.  There are a couple well established choral ensembles and excellent school programs in our area that we are trying to compliment without competing.  Creating new ensembles to serrvice the groups I mentioned is no easy task with a tiny budget.  We have not started seeking funds as we are not an official 501(c)3 yet. 
I have been successful in providing entertainments tailored to specific communites and have many more in the works.  We created a video for Radiohead fans and got posted to   We created videos for the gaming community and can claim a couple million people as our audience.  We created a video for the general internet crowd and made it to  We covered songs for The Joy Formidable and Cloud Cult and got posted by the bands to their Facebook pages, entertaining their fan bases.  Other projects have not been as successful.  We have a video we intended for the Tsunami victims in Japan but it is still unpublished as it took too long to assemble.   These are the kinds of things that drive our organization on a worldwide level.  
I am taking Julia's suggestions to heart.  aside: S.O.S. is one of the inspirations for my vision.  
Removing "entertain" is a hard one I will have to mull over.  When we created our Still Alive videos, gamers and game programmers from around the world contacted me and thanked the choir for making them feel like part of the mainstream.  Dozens and dozens talked about how they cried when they watched our video.  We set out to bring joy to a specific community by creating a specific entertainment for them and this success was the quintessential catalyst for creating the organization.  
That Our Musical Life Inc.  can support what we do in this community (CCMC) is designed to facilitate creating new music internationally.   It is in no way intended as a funding source for our other endeavors.
William, please share here or in private what I wrote that lead you to your critique.  I would like to avoid giving that impression again.  Thank-you again for your honest evaluation.  This is one of the great values of our community to share and receive such input!
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 12, 2014 2:24pm
Now I'm confused about the goals of your organization, Our Musical Life, Inc., Jack.  I can fully understand William's concern, especially now that I've read your most recent post where you describe creating videos for certain "communities," because the communities you describe (other than tsunami victims) aren't typically ones that funders and donors have any interest in "helping."  Apart from the desire to form choirs in marginalized and/or disadvantaged communities, a la S.O.S., it does sound to me as if what your organization has already done, and perhaps also plans to do, falls more squarely in the realm of for-profit activities.
Even if you gain nonprofit, tax exempt status, it will be tremendously difficult to attract donations that would support, for example, the creation of a video product that is geared toward people and/or groups of people that are not generally considered to be "in need" by the definition of the term that most people understand.  I also get the feeling that most of the communities you refer to are viewed as "consumers" of a product, rather than participants in an activity that would benefit not only them but potential audiences, as well.  I hope what I am trying to say makes some sense.        
So, could you help us out here by simply listing, in order of priority, exactly what Our Musical Life, Inc., hopes and plans to do in the future, exactly what its specific goals are, and how you propose those goals will be met?  Very short sentences with keywords would be fine; you don't need to write an essay.  If you do that here in the public forum, it would help us better understand where you are coming from and what kind of advice, etc., you might wish to receive from those of us who have a lot of experience in the nonprofit world to help you move forward.
on June 14, 2014 8:49am
This is more than I asked for but sure I'll lay it out here and encourage critique and advice.  There are many aspects but in my mind and the minds of our board members they are all connected. 
Hindsight: In writing this response it became clear to me that I was not seperating the misson of Our Musical Life Inc. enough from Children's Choir of teh Internet, our flagship ensemble.  Thanks for helping me. 
Our Musical Life Inc. (OML)  is the umbrella organization for several ensembles and events all focused on building community. 
After reading your recommended article here is a possible Mission statement but it may not say enough.
"Building community through a musical life." 
Why and How:
We want people to feel like they are not alone, but belong to a group.  
     1. We will provide ensembles that center around specific groups of people.  
     2. We will provide performance opportunities for individuals through talent shows, workshops, recording opportunities and theatrical performances.
     3.  We will encourage the creation of new music for our ensmbles and beyond.
     4. We will support other arts organizations through shared resources, joint performances, shared advertizing and not encroaching on each other's niches.
     1. We will seek dynamic individuals to lead ensembles that they hopefully have investment in.  
     2. Through public performance we will get the word out about our organization and provide funding through ticket sales, advertizing, donations etc.
     3. Through targetted contests, commissions, hiring and begging we will encourage the creaton of new music for our ensembles and the world.
     4.  We will try to work with our local school and community ensembles to be the ether that flows between directors, performers and audiences.  
    1. Ticket sales
    2. Membership fees
    3. Donations
    4. Fund Raising
    5. Grants
    6. Advertizing
                     Current Ensembles:
"Children's Choir of teh Internet"
Geeky kids finding value through performing music they and their big brother think is cool.
The Internet Component: this is pretty specific to this ensemble's function as the world outreach group for our organization.
We want to help people feel valued in their online communities by creating entertainments designed specifically for their community.  This is typically video covers of songs that are key to group identity.  
"Racine Community Choir"
Giving grandma and grandchild, Mom and Dad a place to make music together singing familiar holiday repertoire.
                 Upcoming Ensembles (not yet named)
Choir For Youthful Offenders
Helping young men and women find the value of being a part of a positive community.
Joyful Noise Clone 
(We had a director but she moved before we got started)
Givng people with cognitive, physical or mental abilities their firends and caregivers a place to belong and sing.
LGBT Choir
This is an example of a subgroup that is currently unserved in our community.  If we found the right director, we could fill this need.
HALO Choir
We have a homeless shelter (HALO) that houses around 30 men at any one time.  They have an excellent entertainment room that my church helped provide.  Again, all we need is the director.
Middle School Choir (starting Fall 2014)
We need a place for our graduating members of Children's Choir of teh Internet to go when they reach 7th grade and there is not a community choir for them in our area.
                        Events or short term ensembles:
City Wide Talent Show
Until about 20 years ago our city had a very popular event called Cardiac Capers.  It was a fund raiser for our hospital.  The event brought many people together and provided a performance venue. This need is not being met. 
Treble Corps
This is a workshop choir (2 weeks) we have run to teach kids how sing solo or back up in popular styles using microphones and good stage presence.
Recording Experience
Giving kids the chance to make a semi professional demo recording for their own use, culminating in a live performance of the best performers with a professional rock band and producing a  live CD for sale.
Musical and Play Productions
                           Encouragement of the Creation of New Music.
The Jim Feiszli project will probably be the first thing we support.  Getting composers and choirs (including our own) to write and perform works commemorating the vision and labor of the founder of ChoralNet.  This may seem less related but composers have already been a part of our organization in important ways: arranging, composing and performing with and for our members and audience.  We may host composition contests for specific OML ensembles.  
Sorry Julia and all, if you ask me about things I care deeply about I am going to give you an earful!
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 14, 2014 10:57am
Thanks, Jack!  That really helps to clarify things.  I'll think about what you've written (and hopefully others with nonprofit experience will, too) and share some thoughts in a day or two.  In the meantime, if you have any specific issues you are struggling with, in addition to writing a good mission statement, please do share them so we can help.  Lots of brain power out here!
on June 15, 2014 4:44pm
I think your mission statement sounds a bit vague and blah, even though the vision behind it is not blah.  Here is a suggestion:
"Building resilient and harmonious communities with choral music."
It looks like you're going to need a boatload or two of volunteers to work with you to meet all of your goals.  I do wish you the best with everything.
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