In a previous blogpost I wrote about the three myths about communities of practice. The second myth is that communities of practice are self-emergent. I'm currently reading a lot of articles to include relevant parts into an article I'm writing with Sibrenne Wagenaar about facilitating in communities of practice. I haven't really found good parts that describe how you can facilitate in communities.
Our ice-skating in front of our house last week offers a good example. Because of the ice-skating, lot of neighbours came outside and skated/slided and chatted. I got to know a few neighbours a little better, and talked for the first time with some others. Unfortunately this was the first time in the seven years that our street exists that ice-skating was possible.
Suppose you are someone with an interest in fostering relationships in our neighbourhood. Would you wait for another seven year so that more of these opportunities emerge? I believe you can learn from what happens naturally (the emergent) and use it to facilitate (design). For instance, you could organize a trip to a artificial skating place. Or rather organize a different event, because you observed that this event attracted mostly parents with children. Nothing dirty about facilitating a community of practice!