Re: Circumstantial Community - An Academic Question
From: DHCano (
Date: Wed, 28 Jul 1999 13:20:23 -0500
In a message dated 99-07-28 13:43:34 EDT, allenbutcher [at] writes:

> Circumstantial community I then
>define as, "a group of people living in proximity by chance, such as in a
>city, neighborhood or village,

I have lived in intentional communities (currently at Ganas) and in many 
other situations -- including a village in Mexico and more than one 
neighborhood in New York City.  In my experience, people do not choose 
neighborhoods, let alone villages, by chance.  In New York City a great deal 
is immediately known about a new acquaintance just by learning in which of 
the highly varied neighborhoods she or he chooses to live.  Nor do residents 
usually choose neighborhoods merely for cosmetic reasons or for commuting 
convenience.  They often identify strongly with their neighborhood and unite 
to meet challenges to its perceived qualities as a neighborhood.  People 
know, or at least recognize and interact with, others in their neighborhood, 
and perceive them as having common interests.  Villages are often united by 
even stronger ties including long history and numerous criss-crossing family 

But intentionality as it is used in describing communities is, in my view, 
related to the enterprise of 'living intentionally' through the ongoing 
process of consciously choosing or designing the conditions of their mutual 
interactional patterns and common life, *not* the the intentionality of 
picking a community that already exists (and may already be quite a strong 
community with established, accepted patterns of living.).  

For me, a community that has relatively fixed patterns of interaction, 
livelihood, etc., and no longer operates on the assumption that decisions 
about such things are fully open to the free consideration of the current 
membership, and that does not regard participation in the making of such 
choices as a key element of community membership, is, de facto, no longer 
'intentional'.  (Intentional community is hard to maintain beyond the 
founding generation precisely because children born to the community react 
just as children anywhere else, either taking the ways prevalent during their 
childhood for granted as valid or automatically rebelling against them -- 
neither having anything to do with 'intentionality' but arising in the normal 
developmental course.)

Diane Cano

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