Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

What is Community? – Part 1 of 2

In Dave Smith on February 11, 2009 at 8:50 pm

From Earl Brown
Ukiah
Part One | Part Two

There has been a lot of talk about community lately and there is bound to be more as we move farther into the collapse of Industrial Society. There are discussions on its importance, the need for it and the benefits of it, how it is the answer to our problems and how it is the basis of localization efforts. Everyone seems to have their own definition of what community is and we all seem to recognize its importance but, what is it, really? Can community be defined or, is it an ideal than can be strived for yet never achieved, like perfection and democracy? Do we live in one? How do we know? Is it a lump of land and people, a principle, or is it a self-organizing system?

This topic came up while I was driving a home from San Francisco with a friend the other day, just ahead of the northbound, homeward commute. The insanity of the freeway was taking the form of weaving vehicles, angry drivers, tailgating, speeding, but luckily, no accidents. “How would you describe a community”, he asked. “Well”, I said, “take our current situation. Our community is comprised of ourselves, these other drivers sharing the freeway with us and the species of plants and animals in the vicinity. Our car is our local environment and the freeway is the larger environment. Our success in getting home safely, actually everybody’s success in getting home, is dependent upon how we drivers work together, share the road and obey the principals of caution while navigating the environment of the freeway. If any one person, or group of people, chooses to ignore the rules of conduct and act without regard to everyone else’s safety then, collectively, everyone’s chances of getting home would be reduced. So our current community is the drivers and people in the other cars, all the factors and relationships effecting the drivers and how they worked together, or not, moving through the freeway environment, to reach their goal, to get home.” I’m not sure if my friend was impressed with my example but the idea that a community could be described in ways other than people and property lead to fresh ideas and a deepening of the conversation.

Keep reading What is Community? – Part 1


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