|Circumstantial Community - An Academic Question||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: allenbutcher (allenbutcherjuno.com)|
|Date: Wed, 28 Jul 1999 12:41:30 -0500|
Rob's post about community awareness continues to inspire thoughts that I would like to share. It has always been fascinating to me to see people recognizing and acting upon a group awareness, which I compare with the awakening in a child of self-awareness. Now we also have the theory of the world's global human population experiencing a similar awakening, called variously "New World Order" and the "Gaia" myth. This awakening has many parallels, and even goes into the spiritual levels of this auspicious time at the change of the Christian millennia, the Aztec Sun Cycles, and the astrological transition of the ages (Piscis to Aquarius). With regard to cohousing communities, the explicit goal of creating community via architectural, land use and governmental design represents an understanding of the basic dynamics involved in how our physical and civic environments impact upon our experience of community. Yet as Rob suggests, there are different levels of community awareness. In order to grasp this concept, I constructed what I call the "communitarian continuum," representing a range from intentional community to "circumstantial community." Circumstantial community I then define as, "a group of people living in proximity by chance, such as in a city, neighborhood or village, the residents of which may or may not individually choose to be active participants in the pre-existing association." Intentional community I define as, "a fellowship of individuals and families practicing common agreement and collective action." The complicating factor is that either circumstantial or intentional community can function as the other. For example, an intentional community may abandon its common agreements, causing the people to drift apart, or a town may pull together in collective action in response to a common threat or opportunity. Obviously, then, over time, any particular group of people may transition along different positions on the communitarian continuum. When does a group of people cross the line between circumstantial community and intentional community? It happens, but making that judgement call is difficult to do via any objective criteria. For example, we might think that if a cohousing group were to decide to divide up their common house into individual residential condo units, that would be a good indication of loss of intentionality. Yet many land trust communities do not have common houses, and if the change were made via "common agreement and collective action" such a move might actually be an indication of intentionality. The group may no longer be a cohousing community, but it could still be an intentional community. Even group denial of intentional community status ipso facto evidences intentionality, although a subsequent lack of group interaction would warrent determination of circumstantial community status. In the case of Aspen Cohousing, there were at least two original goals for the community. One was to provide affordable housing, and another to create cohousing community. If it happened that all of the people who moved into the community were primarily interested in acquiring affordable housing, with no interest in the community aspect, wouldn't the community still warrent the distinction of being a success? Via "common agreement and collective action" they achieved their goal as a community, irrespective of any judgement as to their degree of evidence of communitarian orientation. In this case, as long as the group identifies themselves as a "cohousing community" their status is decided. Any further judgement as to their degree of intentionality versus circumstantiality requires an objective criteria, which I do not believe exists outside of comparative studies such as Graham Meltzer's. Graham's study, and similar research if such exists, could provide basic criteria for an objective determination of gradients of communitarianism, but would best be inclusive of all forms of community. Personally, the amount of work that idea suggests identifies my limit of interest in academic discussions, yet I'd encourage others to carry on with the idea! Allen
Circumstantial Community - An Academic Question allenbutcher, July 28 1999
- Re: Circumstantial Community - An Academic Question DHCano, July 28 1999
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