Community cannot simply be made, it must be built

We hear a lot in the wider news about new communities being made all over the world, which is an exciting and inspiring story. To think that we can live differently, that the material foundations upon which we live can be shared and that nature is given a primary focus is a unimaginable inspiration that’s for sure. One element for us that’s even more important than simply changing how and where we live, it’s the process of building community. We can buy all the new exciting sustainable self-sufficient tech, implement interesting systems and coordinate our efforts, but if we don’t know how to live together and build community together, then we won’t reach the point of harmonious co-habitation.

Think about a normal suburb, when you have a neighbour that does something annoying, all you can do is react and get upset, maybe send them a challenging letter, or report them to Council or some such other uninviting way. It generally leaves you more frustrated or angry as the solution you are seeking has no possibly way of coming to fruition and in turn the neighbour puts up even higher “walls” to protect themselves and possibly increases the upsetting activity, just so “show they can”.

This is why we call it Community Building. Because as much as we are physically building or rebuilding sites of humans to live together in a sustainable way that is more and more self-sufficient, we are also building the social and political foundation that the community will be functioning around. Naturally there will be power plays and certain leaders that rise to the fore and roles that almost seem pre-determined, but if an ecosystem can be built that gives each person a voice and a role, then you will see that stability and cohesion are much more easily attained.

This process of “storming”, of becoming a community, will be different for all groups and all cultures,where processes that work perfectly for some will be too complex or too simple for others. The main elements that seem to be essential however are inclusivity, every voice is valid, the veto-er has something to offer not something to be negative about, talking is always better than not, equally getting things done gives a feeling of tangibility and group resolve.

There is no easy way to do this and more often than not, it’s the differences that will devolve a community, not the lack of enthusiasm. “Being on the same page”, there’s more to this than we realise. This does not mean have the same world view, or exactly the same beliefs whether they be religious or otherwise, but it does have a be a shared goal or shared vision, wanting and working towards the same thing.

Building community takes time, but when it’s done right, it really gives the chance for the group to shine and build the best social cultures and most productive results that enhance the community’s livelihood and ability to thrive.

Tracey Cooper