Learning about personal change and collective dimension from “The Beehive Community”
At the end of March, the Greek group of SSEds project had the chance to meet “The Beehive Community” (https://the-beehive.org), a newly formed cooperative active in Athens. Our intention was to learn about why they chose to start this path together, how they took the first steps and what helped them in this process.
The Beehive Community offers different activities with personal development as main core. They provide a wide range of activities that go from connection and bonding, effective listening, improvisation theatre, Montessori education to childbirth preparation, therefore accompanying the person from their coming into this world until their social interactions as an adult. The activities are implemented also through seminars, retreats, webinars, workshops and networking with festivals and other groups which allow them to promote and spread this way of life.
At the personal level, the activities’ offered aim is to get to know yourself better through the interaction with the team as well as other individuals. The focus is set in raising awareness and gaining knowledge on matters that concern oneself, learning how to leave behind old habits that keep you away from your real self and bringing new ones for your present and future.
“We believe that people can flourish when they use their different skills within a community”
However, the effect and the impact of these activities go far beyond the individual level and have a big impact in the community, supporting social change via personal development. The participants of the workshops are invited to become members of the Beehive community taking part in community events to keep in touch and share a good time together. Through this group connection it is perceived how much direct impact our actions and behavior has on the personal but also collective level. Realizing the value and the need of being in a group makes us aware of healthy coexistence and the importance to spread this way of life. This in itself is part of social change.
Each one of them as individuals had in mind that they want to create something with people who share common values with the aim of improving themselves and at the same time having a social impact. So, when they met in May 2018, they decided to work together as a team offering their different skills and services not with the terms of the market but with the laws of nature. Birth, optimism, resilience, cooperation are some elements both of the bee and the beehive community.
“If there wasn’t sympathy initially, and then friendship among ourselves, the foundations might not be strong enough to sustain the earthquakes that we already had to face. Our lives are intertwisted: we are very different from each other but there is a deep connection among us”
What made them pass from an idea to the implementation? The relationships that they built among them and they are building with the wider community of those who participated in the workshops. “I feel strong with the team – Christina says – I feel that my personal idea can indeed flourish here, and I have the support of the other members to do it. If I tried to do it alone, it might well be that I never did it. Mutual support and solidarity give me strength”
“We allowed enough time at the beginning to get to know each other, to make sure we can collaborate, to trust each other… we dedicated time to our relationship. This trust must be built throughout time”
In the two following years they devoted time to get to know each other both personally and professionally. On the one hand they focus on bonding as a team and on the other hand they worked on their business plan so as to build a strong foundation. They attended training seminars to acquire the appropriate tools to be able to become a sustainable team that will last over time. Meanwhile, they started to conduct pilot workshops to see in practice the needs that exist and what else they need to work on. Therefore, step by step they developed a strong community and now they have a legal form as a social cooperative.
So far, the results of their work are visible in the personal change that participants in the workshops experience and express. It will take much more time for The Beehive Community to become also a sustainable means of employment for its four members. A usual company requires at least 2 years to become sustainable, and this applies even more to an SSE cooperative where money is not the only factor for decision making.
“We know that in the next two years we need to work hard in order to make The Beehive Community our only means of support, but we have walked a long path already and this is our dream!”
The visibility of the Beehive Community comes from word of mouth, social media and collaborations with other social communities and cooperatives. Their goal is to soon acquire the home of the Beehive Community, their physical headquarters and participate in European programs and help people connect with experiences abroad.