Why we must build bridges between communities

construction bridge
Part of what I do involves running a social enterprise called Building The Bridge. Recently, we’ve been running a Pop Up Digital Agency programme in Brighton (UK) that is helping a group of young, unemployed people engage with and enter the digital media and creative sectors.

A couple of weeks ago I was discussing the project with a friend of mine, Vysia Duffield, and happened to mention to her that I thought that one of the biggest things that we are trying to do is to help build bridges between communities. In this case, between the community of the unemployed and parts of the local business community.

This idea really struck a chord with Vysia and it reminded her of another project – the recent #CokeDrones project by Singapore & Singapore Kindness – that is doing exactly the same thing, building bridges between communities, but in a very different way.

The #CokeDrones project is focused on Singapore and the fact that the city is being built by a large community of migrant workers. However, resident Singaporeans and those workers are largely disconnected. Therefore, the project aimed to connect these two groups and allow Singaporeans to recognise the migrant workers and show their appreciation.

Check out the video:


After I watched the video, it made me think about how society is made up of a series of communities. Whether that’s the business community, the community of the unemployed, the communities of migrant workers that help build many cities around the world or any other community, for that matter.

As such, for society to work well, and better, isn’t it imperative that we continue to building bridges between relevant communities so that they don’t get isolated from each other?

Why? Well, isolation can breed misunderstanding, mistrust, a lack of communication, apathy, lack of effective working together and, amongst other things, thoughts that communities don’t care about or appreciate each other (even when they might).

This applies to all types of communities. I mean, just think about how communities of customers feel when they are not taken care of or their concerns are ignored by businesses that they deal with.

‘Bridges’ connect us, help us understand each other’s challenges, allow us to try and figure out how we can better help each other and show that we care and appreciate one another.

For many communities showing them that we care and appreciate them can be the biggest and best gift that we could possibly give them. Like in the Coke video, the messages of appreciation showed the migrant workers that they, and what they do, matters. This seemed to instil a sense of gratitude and pride in the workers and is an important step towards better and stronger relations between these communities.

A small action. But, a powerful result.

So, whether you are an executive in a corporation or an entrepreneur running a business or a social enterprise, take a moment to think about where else we could apply such thinking and action? Imagine if you did start to build bridges with relevant communities, whether they are customers, employees, suppliers or stakeholders, what the results could be. Imagine how much better and stronger your relationships with them would be and how that could benefit what you are trying to achieve.


This post originally appeared on my Forbes.com column here.

Photo Credit: Brave Heart via Compfight cc

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