Fwd: RE: Evolving a Unique Community Culture
From: Michael Mariner (maikanoidcomm.com)
Date: Fri, 16 May 1997 17:28:05 -0500
I'm assuming Rob meant to send this back to the list and therefore won't 
mind me bouncing it back to the list for you all to enjoy.

I'll post a follow up soon.  Any other thoughts about the local cultures 
that you're evolving.  Being a humanities kind o' guy, I believe the 
culture -- the set of group beliefs and practices and language are one of 
the main things we harvest by building communities.

Mike M

- - - - - - - - - - - 
Subject:     RE: Evolving a Unique Community Culture
Sent:        5/14/97 7:06 AM
From:        Rob Sandelin, Floriferous [at] msn.com
To:          Mike Mariner, maikano [at] idcomm.com

Michael asked about building culture.

This is an interesting question because it is precisely this culture that 
takes the longest for the new member to understand. It is not written 
anywhere. Maybe culture is the combination of all the unwritten 
understandings 
that exist.  For example, one of our in-house words is rachet. Used in 
this 
context, "I can't get caught up in a rachet now, I have things to do".  
What 
rachet describes is the community phenom of going out to get the paper 
and 
coming back 3 hours later, having had diversionary conversations or other 
activities involving numerous people. The commonhouse is referred to by 
some 
as the rachet zone.

There is a lot of how we work together in our communities that is 
cultural. 
Events, processes and language comes from time and sharing experiences 
together. I think bringing people into your culture as a community is 
hard to 
do. For example, the notion of social capital comes to mind. Social 
captial is 
the good will people engender by working visibly on community improving 
endeavors, and also comes from being around and part of the life of the 
community. If you have high social captial people will accept your 
foibles 
much more than if you have low social capital. Although there is an 
expectation of participation written down, it is not written anywhere 
that if 
you don't participate in community endeavors much, people will be 
critical of 
you. You have to figure that part out.

Another peice of our culture is that we expect a certain amount of 
openness. 
People will unabashedly come up and ask somewhat personal questions, and 
unless you specify otherwise, these personal things may become more or 
less 
known to everyone. Its not that people are gossip mongers, its that they 
notice your moods and ask about them. And in some cases, they just 
quietly 
work on some activity they think may help you.

Culture is occaisionally a barrier for new people because they get caught 
up 
in something they don't understand, and its not in the process, policy or 
other manuals. You have to learn to ask questions, and get perspectives 
from 
3-4 other people to clearly understand what's happening. You can 
understand 
culture by watching a group for awhile and looking for the ways things 
happen 
and are done. Sometimes this is not a conscious thing, and reflects 
broadly 
held assumptions. For example, there is no rule at Sharingwood that  says 
it's 
not OK to hit your kids. I do not recall this issue ever even being 
talked 
about. But if any adult ever hit a kid in public in Sharingwood I would 
bet 
there would be 9 or 10 adults involved in processing it and, if the adult 
involved beleived it was OK to hit their kid, it would create a huge 
conflict 
area.

Culture also comes from recurring events you hold as a group and how you 
deal 
with specific contexts. For example, our culture at Sharingwood is to 
plant a 
tree as a memorial to someone in the community who dies. This got started 
a 
long time ago, and it accepted as how we do this.

Rob Sandelin
Sharingwood
Cedar Village (forming)



         

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