Thanks for your thoughts! I hope your Permaculture projects "bear fruit" both literally and metaphorically. Community garden type projects are great for building community.
I don't think I could see myself in an intentional community though. I'd love to work with one and be involved.... but you know... on my own terms. I grew up on a small family farm and am of a very independent, conservative/libertarian nature. I'm the kind of guy who is very willing to help a neighbor, and very neighborly... but, "I keep myself to myself".
I appreciate your perspective on community. I think when people talk about building community, planned, intentional communes or cooperatives come to mind. I share your caution regarding such projects; while they can be very beautiful, they are also difficult to establish and can become cultish or controlling, not leaving enough room for room for diverse human beings.
I'm trying to host a wide range of perspectives on community building on my website, but one thing I'm trying to stress is that until modern times every human being lived in a community; a group of people that they knew and that looked out for one another, more or less. I hold that kind of community to be important to human flourishing, but that doesn't mean we all need to go "found" intentional community projects. That is one way to get there, but I hope that a more gradual, organic approach could turn the disconnected groups of people we already live near into a functioning community, through the kind of neighborly actions you mentioned.
An elderly friend likes to tell me about his childhood in an urban ethnic enclave on the East Coast; as he put it, though they were all poor, nobody was ever going to go hungry. Today, we wouldn't know our neighbors well enough to know if they needed help . . . and that's a shame.
I'm not in any kind of position to put together a Permaculture curriculum, but that's a very interesting project! Is your friend's curriculum in use?