On the CohereCommunity.com blog has a (slightly older, but still good) post about communities and the "when" and "where" of them happening.
I’m talking about people trends and community and HOW. WE. CONNECT. I decided to start old school stylie, and looked up the word 'community' in the dictionary. [...] So community literally means to give gifts to and among each other. Which in turn means my community is a group of people who welcome and honor my gifts, and from whom I can reasonably expect to receive gifts in return.
They go on to talk about the three key elements any good community relies on - the people that make it up, the places they meet (real or virtual) and the "things" that bring them together.
If I could make a single plea to every researcher, academic, economist and reporter it would be to stop counting us and start communicating with us. Learn more about where, why, and how our communities form, and why they’re so important to us (even when they don’t make us any money).
If you're not already involved in a local user group or haven't attended a conference, it's an experience completely different than sitting behind the keys, hacking day to day. PHP.net has a list of both PHP conferences and upcoming events - find one near you and make plans to attend. You'll be glad you did!