I’ve worked for a lot of brands, and “community building” is an often stated goal. In practice, this usually equates to asking questions in captions (“Where’s your dream destination?”) and responding to social media comments (👊 ,💥, 🙌). Which is to say, they’re cultivating a digital community. Nothing wrong with it. But it’s ubiquitous. Db does it, too.

But a while back there was an initiative to grow this community even bigger — via Db Black, Instagram Close Friends and various WhatsApp groups for students, athletes, creatives. The invitation to these WhatsApp groups said something like, “to connect with Db’s people around the world, and maybe find a couch to sleep on when you visit Paris.”

I started traveling after those invites went out, and just became the “postcard guy”, so I never heard how they turned out.

This week, Tin — the wunderkind that manages these communities — is here in Portugal. Yesterday he sent me a message. “Hey, I am meeting some Db students at the beach this afternoon for a picnic and drinks. You and Dana should join.”

So we did, and I got to witness the results of true community building. A dozen students from the area hanging out in the afternoon sand. In real life! Tin held court, introducing everyone and offering snacks. Ramverk Backpacks were strewn about and people drank Ummis, chatting in various languages.

We left the beach buzzing. Yes, the kombuchas helped, but I think I was more excited about the results of this experiment I’d completely forgotten about, and meeting strangers that became friends. Everyone was so nice.