Re: What Makes community
From: Martin Tracy (
Date: Wed, 26 Apr 95 14:18 CDT
<Chris wrote about Scott Peck's book...>

>> Far and away the best book I know that describes this is Scott Peck's A
>> Different Drum which I urge upon everyone who has any interest in

His recent book <Further Along the Road Less Traveled> continues the 
of his theory of community.

>I also highly recommend this book and think that it has some very good
>insights in relation to this discussion.  His insights into the attributes of
>community and the phases are particularly valuable (and there are a lot of
>good stories). The phases that he says a community goes through (I can't
>remember the exact names but maybe you can help me, Jared) are:
>1) False community: At first, everyone acts as if they are in complete
>harmony. Areas of conflict are glossed over and ignored. They believe that the
>y are a community but this perception is false.  They are concentrating on
>outward similarities ("we all like body piercing").
>2) Conflict: The underlying conflicts come to the surface.  Often, the people
>that surface these areas of disharmony are attacked for breaking the
>community spirit.  People try to change each other to conform to their
>perspectives in order to "regain" their "lost" sense of community. 
>3) Chaos: The group teeters on dissolution.  It breaks into warring camps.
> Lots of frustration that others won't change.  The faciliator and leaders
>particularly come under attack.
>4) Community: The frustration leads to an acceptance of others for how they ar
>e and a true accomodation of differences and perspectives.  Bonding occurs
>based on an honest perception of each other.

It's easier to see these separate phases in a weekend-long intensive community 
building workshop.

1. Pseudo-community, as you said.
2. Chaos.  As people drop their "nice" masks and become genuine, they are 
ignored, or attacked, as you said.  IF enough brave souls persist, a critical 
mass is reached, and the community suddenly enters the next stage...
3. Emptiness.  With no structure, no social niceties, what's left?  In a 
workshop, this often manifests as a period of an hour or more where people 
wander the halls, saying nothing, looking shell-shocked, feeling depressed.  
Then they begin to reconnect in a more genuine way, building trust, feeling 
safe, and entering
4. True community.

Come Monday morning, this community experience can feel unreal, and can quickly 
slip away.

<Creating Community Anywhere> says that a community is based on shared 
experiences and has a volume: a length, a width, and a depth.  Length is the 
length of time the community has shared, width is the number of different areas 
of life shared, and depth is the depth of sharing.  Weekend community workshops 
are described as being short on time, medium width, and long on depth.

Martin Tracy, Los Angeles
mtracy [at]

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