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The Privileged Deserve Community Too
On Hampton and the difference between "good exclusion" and "bad exclusion"
Last week on Twitter, I shared a new community called Hampton that was launched by my friend, Sam Parr.
Hampton is an exclusive community for founders where members are put into small pods of 8-10 people, and participate in regular discussion groups facilitated by a coach.
To join you have to meet some steep requirements:
When encountering a community like this, it’s easy to scoff. The community-minded sometimes have a fraught relationship with wealth.
It does beg the question, '“Should we only focus on building communities for underprivileged and marginalized groups? Should we not also build community for the privileged and wealthy?”
Or as one person put in in a response to my tweet, “Another ‘rich’ gated community to access to ‘experts’ at $X,XXX per year doesn't help solve the equity or access problem.”
I think it’s a worthwhile conversation to have. So today, let’s discuss that question, and the concept of exclusion, in more depth.
Note: This is a complex topic and I'm sure I get some of this wrong, so please reply or drop a comment to poke holes and share your perspectives.
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The privileged experience loneliness too.
The idea that only the underprivileged are deserving of community is problematic because it dismisses the basic human need for belonging and connection. People in positions of power and wealth require community and support just like anyone else.
Now, it may be true that the wealthy, broadly speaking, struggle less with loneliness.
One study found that “higher income was systematically associated with lower self-rated loneliness, regardless of other life circumstances.”
Though, in another study, it was found that “higher household income was associated with less time spent socializing with others and more time spent alone.”
From what I’ve gathered, the wealthy may suffer from loneliness less not because they’re less connected, but because they have less of a need for connection (more of their problems are solved by money). So if you want to focus community work on helping the people with the greatest need, then perhaps you shouldn’t focus on the wealthy.
That said, a lesser need is still a need. We all need community, regardless of our status. And not all privilege is made equal when it comes to loneliness.
Founders, for example, often experience intense isolation and loneliness. They are expected to be strong for their employees and investors, and very few spaces exist where they can be vulnerable and express their fears. I know this from my own experience as a Founder and a CEO. It can be terribly lonely.
It’s the purpose of the community that matters.
A community like Hampton isn’t bad because it’s exclusive to people in positions of wealth or power. It’s the purpose of a community that tells us if the exclusion is good or bad.
Note: Defining “good” and “bad” is never easy, and nothing is ever that black and white. A Buddhist would say good and bad doesn’t even exist! For the purpose of this article, we’ll set aside that debate and take “good” to loosely mean “positive impact on humanity” and “bad” to loosely mean “negative impact.”
Whether a community like Hampton is good or bad depends on its purpose and how it excludes.
If Hampton is designed as a safe space for founders to discuss the unique challenges they face as leaders, feel less alone, and share their deep struggles, then I see that as good exclusion.
If, however, Hampton is designed for founders to share insider information, bask in their self-importance, and consolidate power, I’d see that as bad exclusion. Most social clubs end up taking this form and, in my humble opinion, they suck.
I’m not a part of Hampton so I don’t know what it’s like in there. But from hearing Sam talk about the conversations they facilitate in their pods, where founders are sharing their deepest struggles and opening up to the point where they’re crying, it sounds like it’s the former.
Inclusion doesn’t mean accepting everyone. Inclusion means accepting people who are aligned with the purpose of the community.
In Hampton’s case, the $1 million requirement helps create space for a deep and meaningful conversation that members can’t have anywhere else.
You can have a good purpose but a bad culture.
While your intentions may be good, it’s all about how you execute.
If a community excludes people based on a part of their identity that has nothing to do with the purpose, that’s a problem.
For example, if there’s a community for founders but people of color don’t feel welcome there, that’s a bad form of exclusion. It’s not in line with the purpose of the community and it’s negatively impacting a marginalized group.
These kinds of exclusions are rarely explicit. Most communities wouldn’t say, “people of color aren’t welcome here.” It’s much more subtle and often unintentional. But it would take those people of color five minutes to know that the space isn’t designed for them.
The truth is most communities organized by people in positions of power and privilege do exclude on this level to some extent. It’s the status quo. We’re in a racist, sexist, and ableist system that’s easy to perpetuate.
But if you’re intentional and proactive in avoiding that kind of bad exclusion you can help change things.
While some people may not be able to access a curated or expensive community, if the requirements are intentionally designed to create a safe space for those who do not have it, and the community is proactive in creating a culture where ALL people who fit the requirements feel welcome and included, then I’m all for it.
Everyone deserves community.
Again, I'm sure I got some of this wrong so please reply or drop a comment and share your perspectives.
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