Building a community is like baking a cake.

Just as there are key ingredients when making a cake. There are key ingredients to shaping a community. If you think back to making your first cake as a child, it was probably exciting. Did you lick the left over cake mix from the spoon? Building a community is also exciting. As the community slowly takes shapes, all the ingredients work together. Just like a cake rising in the oven.

A Shared Purpose:

Flour is vital for a cake. A shared purpose is crucial for a community. Common goals provide the energy to move forward. They create the willingness to work, discover and share together. Football fans build tremendous group energy in their shared support of their team. Fans of a band will group together and travel the length and breadth of the country to see their favourite musicians. Sharing a vision of something that you want, and then moving toward that vision is powerful. I remember the anti-Apartheid movement and the tremendous energy that gathered around Nelson Mandela. The shared goal of racial equality changed the world.

Music Is Sweet

A cake needs some sweetness, or else it's just bread.

Can you imagine a party without music? Music brings people together. Its rhythm is the heart beat that unifies a group. Shared songs create a feeling of being part of something. We sway to music together. We can't help moving to a rhythm. It's an unconscious response. Countries have national anthems, football teams their songs. Have you ever been in a pub where everybody started chanting "Come on Eileen?" Songs grow around communities and help shape their identities.


Communities care for their children. They see that children are the future. Knowing this they find ways to nurture and educate the young. Playfulness and creativity keep us all young.

The day you stop playing is the day you grow old.

Children are the eggs that bind the community cake. You can have a vegan cake, and use an egg substitute, but you will still need something to bind the mix. Your community may lack children, but if it lacks playfulness, it will grow stale, moldy and die.

Giving Back

A healthy community sees the bigger picture, and gives back to those less fortunate than itself. Giving back to the wider world allows us to grow. If we eat too much cake we will get sick. If we focus too much on our own concerns, we become selfish. And get sick. Giving back is the pinch of salt in the cake mix that keeps us healthy. Family Fest not only brought people together for music, dance, story telling and fun, but we raised money for the John Mc Neill Opportunity Center, Salisbury, for children with additional needs.

Water and willingness

As a cake needs some water, a community needs some willingness. We have to step in. We have to get involved. We must participate. I heard a slogan once: "life is a gift, but you need to be fully present to win." We can't just sit around and expect life to come to us. We have to take action.

All that's required is a little willingness. Life will do the rest.

We don't have to climb mountains, fly to the moon, or dazzle the world with our brilliance. We just need to show up.


Imagine if when the oven got hot the cake left to find somewhere easier. Every community will face challenges. When things get hot, are we willing to find skilful ways of working through difficulties? Can we face the heat? A cake needs heat in order to bake and rise. A community must be able to face difficulties and challenges.

Why have bread when you can have cake?

We all want to belong. And feel part of something. We all have something to offer. We feel happy when we can contribute ourselves to something worthwhile. Being part of a community and helping it grow is a natural human need. We don't need to eat bread alone. We can share cake, in community.

Always in the background there are generous and kindhearted people quietly working away.

These photos celebrate Family Fest, a one day festival organised by Sandi Weir at the Ringwood Waldorf school. With thanks to Scott Sinclair for providing the photos, and to all the children and parents who helped organise the event.

What ingredients would you include in your community cake?


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