We often speak of finding our Tribe because as humans, we seek out, and celebrate those who identify with a similar culture or life purpose. On the other hand, there’s the Village, where people may not share commonalities but live in community and share common resources. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, because while we gravitate to our tribe, I believe we need our village. Read on for more about the tribe and the village.

The Tribe

We may not live together, but we share a strong sense of community and belonging. When we’re together, conversation flows and dances in a smooth, jazzy rhythm, because we speak the same language. We nod emphatically at each others’ wisdom because we hold similar beliefs. Maybe we share a love of sports, hang at the same park, or just fit together and laugh until we cry.

Emily Chang social legacy collage: tribe

Special shoutout to my precious delicious wonderful Shanghai tribe (upper right)! A couple years ago, I threw a big themed Wanderlust party and brought all the brilliant, funny, creative, joyful people I love to the beautiful Artyzen hotel. 26 spent the night, 14 got piercings, most got temp tattoos and every had a blast.

The Village

We might live together, but we’re more complementary than we are similar. Old films reference the “town drunk” or “village idiot”… that unique cast of characters with whom we share life. True, conversation may feel stilted, group events might get awkward and we may even experience friction.

Emily Chang social legacy collage: village

Living as a village requires stretching our comfort zone and broadening our experiences. And yes, living in a village inevitably comes with some degree of friction. Yet it’s this friction that challenges us… and challenge promotes growth. Because if we only surrounded ourselves with a tribe, life would come with less friction, but also less stretch.

By the way, as I assembled this village collage, it became apparent that we found these special folks under one common umbrella: we met while serving together #LifeLesson.

Upper left: one of our monthly birthday parties for Lotus’ old neighborhood (see The Spare Room book, Chapter Five “The Prostitute’s Daughter”). Upper mid: service holiday at Utila, bringing groceries to the elderly on a not-very-accessible island. We initially went to volunteer at Jasper’s Animal Shelter (Chapter Four “The Vacation”), expanded our service, and met friends along the way! Lower mid: our new extended family as Teo moved from our. home to live with his forever family (Chapter Four “A Place to Die”). Lower right: service holiday building a school for disabled kids in Guatamala through the great program offered by IVHQ.

Meet our village today

Emily Chang social legacy today's tribe

Tim and Hannah live in the detached studio up and behind our house (isn’t it cute!) They’re brilliant creatives working to get their careers off the ground, so they live with us rent-free. So, here’s how our village works: it’s a beautiful two-way flow of support, contribution, value, respect, and love. Hannah often drops Laini when I’m not available and they care for the dogs while we’re traveling. The couple do laundry at our place and then include our order on their Costco runs. Some evenings, I bring up extra dinner and occasionally they bring down a special pourover coffee so we can enjoy the morning together.

Oh, and last week, Tim came to help when I got lazy, thinking I could dispose of an old bed frame without dissembling it first.

Emily Chang social legacy our tribe pic strip

The tribe and the village. Let’s embrace both and live our richest life, full of colorful complexity and exquisite texture. And along the way, let’s grow into our best selves.

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