I suspect that there can be dozens of types of community and for each type there can be thousands of communities - each unique with its own flavor.
I suppose this is a bit like art: there can be dozens of types of art and for each type there can be thousands of pieces of art.
It is my impression that most people that discuss community insist/demand/require that all community must follow one pattern. Or be structured one way. Or follow one path. It is really difficult to discuss alternatives with these folks.
One type of community is .... online forums. And this forum is one piece of art. Of the thousands of other forums, this one is different. It appeals to a very few. It is boring to most people and utterly wrong and unacceptable to many people (like the people that have been banned, or have quit because of my "tyranny").
And, of course, there are communities of many people living under one roof, eating at one table. Some of these communities are four or five people. Some are more like 60. Some are managed with consensus. And some are managed with something else.
Some paintings are landscapes. And some paintings are nudes. One painting is the mona lisa. A lot of people like that, but like the last supper better. And some might think the birth of venus is the best.
Some people might stay at one community all of their life. Others might move around a lot - not because things went wonky, but because they seek a life with more diversity.
I felt the need to express my position that I wish for there to be many communities and many types of community. And when somebody says there can be only one, I wish to suggest that there can be at least a thousand more.
Yes, I agree completely. I have lived in a community for four years and visited many others., and none of them are the right place for everybody or even close. That diversity is one of the great things about intentional communities, in my opinion. So much human suffering and misery comes from the belief in there being only one right way to live. Some ways work and some don't, for sure, but "ways" in the plural is the key, rather than a single way that tries to force everyone to conform.
Community doesn't grow best when cultivated. It's a wild and spontaneous thing that forms when the conditions are just right for its growth. I cringe a little bit whenever I hear the term "intentional community" for this reason. When we set out guidelines for community-building, all we're doing is setting ourselves up for a commitment to forever micro-managing something that should be a self-stable system.
Not to go all halcyon-days on you, but when I think of a community, I think of the group of friends I grew up with on my block. We just happened to be there together, and though some of us didn't really get along, we still all came together because we were mutually bored. We managed to have fun and be functional without rules, guidelines, or scheduled group activities. There's really no more effective way to de-stabilize a group of people than to start telling them that they need to do something to be part of the group. Because we never had those prescriptions for community, we had a community that functioned for years while it was needed, and then disintegrated when it was no longer useful. Now each of us belongs to a different community that functions the same way.
It's almost like a marriage. You can get the little piece of paper that says you're married, do the things that you're legally required to do as a married person, and fill the role that marriage prescribes for you. But all of that means precisely shit without the promise made to each other. That promise can only be made and kept by individuals with integrity. So it is with a community. If people are of a certain disposition, they will respect a community unit and function well within its bounds without being told how to act. If the community only functions because of some mechanism of legislation and enforcement, it's not a community; it's a club or a cult.
I popped over here from the F-Word thread (http://www.permies.com/t/37252/md/Word) because Paul offered the link and it makes sense to me that language use is a dimension of diversity. It's actually my personal favorite form of diversity, because I think if more people learned how to communicate well interculturally -- specifically, among people using different languages with interpreters -- then all kinds of communication skills would improve and we'd have more people in more places solving serious problems - and, as Paul points out, creating art.
Interesting to read Jonathan's critique of the intention in intentional communities....would you describe the need to use an interpreter for communication as a contrived or otherwise detrimental rule-bound structure?
How one defines intentional is the same kind of 'meaningless drivel' debate as that happening over use or non-use of the F-word. Towns are communal, for instance, intentionally so - how do we draw the line against all the agreements of civil society? I am coming to appreciate the barrier that values of independence and autonomy pose to making wise decisions for the collective good. When Paul talks about governance (like above), it seems he's referring more to constitutive actions -- those that determine future possibilities -- than to day-to-day living arrangements, but maybe these categories are too artificial.
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