Wherever You Go, There You Are: Me In Community

posted in: Articles, Land Use, Publications | 61

This article by Clarke Snell was originally published in the New Life Journal.

Remember the Wizard of Oz? For you youngsters, it’s the story of a young teen who is bummed about her scene. Based on an irresponsible article in High Times magazine, she eats some moldy bread and has a bad trip. After a rough night filled with singing imps, neurotic talking animals, flying monkeys, a good witch, a bad witch…all the basic Jungian archetypes, she decides to finish high school and go to business college.

Most analysts dismiss this tale as a cheesy piece of anti-drug propaganda, but I’ve always seen something deeper. To me, it’s a modern parable about the search for community. I know because I’ve lived it. About twenty years ago, I too was bummed about my scene. I had friends, a solid love relationship, a nice place to live, and even time for creative pursuits, but I still felt alone somehow. Apparently I wasn’t alone in my aloneness because the topic seemed to be a mainstay of every party and pot luck. Though there were many variations, the central theme was that the modern world was too big, impersonal, competitive, and alienating. We wanted more cooperation, communication, and connection with people around us. We longed for the return to some hypothesized village paradigm. In short, we wanted community.

After the requisite false starts, wrong turns, and utter disasters, I did eventually get involved in the creation of a small “intentional community” in which I’ve lived for the past ten years. Based on these experiences here is my top four list of things to think about when searching for that special social nest:

1. Moral Cloning. Imagine yourself in a group of people who share your identical interests and opinions. You eat the same foods, read the same books, have the same hobbies, and chew the same gum. Come on, be honest. That sounds horrible doesn’t it? Even if you could stand it, what would you learn there? Also, as a group you’d have clear strengths, but also incredible weaknesses. Now imagine a group of people who run the gamut of opinions, skills, and experiences, but still consider themselves a community. Get that going, and you’ll be on Oprah in a week, baby.

2. Consensus or Not to Consensus. After watching the winner take all football game that is U.S. electoral politics, the benefits of consensus decision making seem obvious. These days gaining the 20% of the vote (52% of the 40% of eligible voters who actually vote) is considered a “mandate” to do whatever your heart desires. Still, in a small group with limited time to devote to decision-making, the problem often isn’t agreement but actually getting things done. If someone is willing to volunteer to spearhead building maintenance or garden planning, for example, not scaring them off the task might be more important than everyone getting exactly what they want.

To take the argument a step further, if you find yourself in the position of starting a community initiative of some kind, make as many unilateral decisions as you can at the outset. We modern westerners aren’t very good at this community stuff. It’s hard enough for us to get along under a defined social structure. Asking us to make up the rules as we are trying to work out interpersonal dynamics is really pushing the envelope.

3. There Are Bad Questions. Is your idea of a perfect summer day sitting in a meeting discussing gravel prices? If not, then community may not be for you. Community means meetings, so do yourself a favor and get good at having them. I once suffered through a couple hours of a community meeting in which the group discussed what might be the law pertaining to a non-profit paying property taxes. Regardless of what your third grade teacher told you, this WAS a bad question because our opinions and theories had no access to the actual factual law in question. Be boring: have an agenda and stick to it, use Robert’s Rules of Order, set time limits.

4. Wherever You Go, There You Are. In my work, I often consult with people who have  just bought land in the area and are planning on moving here to build their dream homestead. As they outline their plans, they invariably describe the bad things about their present life and the good things they imagine for the new life they are beginning. It’s as if they will leave the bad behind and pack only the good for the move. Of course, life doesn’t work like that. You need idealism to fuel changes, but too much will catch your dreams on fire. In my opinion the quickest way to kill community is to expect it to solve your problems. If you are thinking more about what you’ll get than what you’ll give, you might be headed for problems.

As for my own situation, though it was hard work and there were rocky times, things seemed to have settled out nicely in our little community. We don’t have many meetings anymore and I often don’t see some neighbors for long stretches of time, but regardless there is a strong feeling of camaraderie that I feel with everyone in the group. When I analyze our situation, though, we really haven’t created a unique infrastructure or made any inroads into changing typical social patterns.

In fact, after all of the time and work I’ve spent on this project, I think the main thing that is different about my life now as compared to 10 years ago is my own attitude. I seem to be better able to empathize, cut people slack, and accept my own limitations. I’m even making inroads into forgiving myself for all the mistakes and miscalculations I’ve made over the years. Maybe that’s a result of living in an “intentional community” or maybe it’s just the result of living a few more years on planet earth.

Upon reflection, I think the whole “intentional community” approach might be the long way around. If you accept my opinion that the ideal community would be made up of people with the broadest cross-section of opinions, skills, experience, and lifestyles who still thought of themselves as a community, then you have two choices: either start with the goal of community and work to find the group of willing people, or accept the group of people in which you find yourself (whether a neighborhood, school, or country) and work to create the will to be a community. Though I don’t condone the use of hallucinogenic bread mold, I think Dorothy had it right. You’re community is all around you. All you have to do is see it.

61 Responses

  1. These hotels all possess a small mother-and-place, feel
    that is particular and are nearby the beach.

  2. First of all I would like to say superb blog! I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask if you do not mind.
    I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear
    your mind prior to writing. I’ve had a hard time clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas
    out there. I truly do enjoy writing however it just
    seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be lost simply just
    trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or tips?
    Cheers!

  3. The largely perfect temperature is complicated to avoid, specifically across the central shore, along with the scenery from Sur entirely up.

  4. CA is what’ll occur all around the US fundamentally and it’s very depressing.

  5. Fantastic beat ! I wish to apprentice while you amend your website, how could i subscribe for a blog website?
    The account aided me a acceptable deal. I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided
    bright clear idea

  6. Oceanside, CA: On October 22, 2008 – All law-abiding loyal and citizens are advised to become
    alert and meticulous to the profile on your own coastline of
    the Weatherly, quickly, and seriously supply’d Clipper Schooner LYNX.

  7. He has also been nominated for a SKY TV Music Express for
    the Best Male Newcomer Award. The PLAY:3 is Sonos’ newest all-in-one player,
    delivering big Hi – Fi sound in a small size for any room.
    Deezer’s service will start being offered through France Telecom September 19th.

  8. Alex Francis (0-1) of the Compound required on Bill Koshaba of the Undisputed Fitness and Training Centre of El
    Cajon, CA.

  9. Іf yߋu want to play games ⲟn thе internet աithin your free time, yoᥙ migҺt aswell ցet paid for haaving fun!

    Τһere arᥱ tһе websites that ᴡill pay tһeir people tߋ play games, гead
    emails, аnd join paid survey panels.

  10. A number of the issues I found really exclusive to california could be the extremely clear setting
    as a result of most those who decided wherever looked down upon to not recycle and
    how gradual the state was.

  11. Excellent blog! Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
    Ⅰ’m planning to start my own site soon but I’m a littlе
    lost οn everʏthing. Would you suggеst starting with a fee platform liҝe WordPress ⲟr ցо fоr a pid option? Theгe aree ѕo mɑny choices out tҺere thaqt ӏ’m totalply confused ..
    Аny ideas? Kudos!

  12. Wonder Competition of Champions offers you the
    opportunity to punch Iron Guy in the chops, offer Spider-Man a put, as
    well as kick Wolverine in all manner of
    areas.

  13. So, undoubtedly you can acquire some diamonds in the game store, however that isn’t advised
    nor is it economical.

  14. Shopping sites should include website style aspects that boost the
    consumer experience.

  15. As already stated above in the paragraph on the town hall in Clash of Clans
    this building has three variations.

  16. Trouvez la cocotte minute ou l’autocuiseur que vous desirez parmi notre selection de produit
    a petit prix !

  17. Les compléments alimentaires ne sont pas des produits dopants et n’auront pas un impact gigantesque
    sur vos performances.

  18. I think the admin of this website is in fact working hard for his web page, since here every information is
    quality based stuff.

  19. Understanding how to hack clash of kings as well as using these tools will offer
    you the opportunity to appreciate the fights and also the various other aspects of the video game without stressing over collecting sources.

  20. You could utilize the service of web hossting websites tto build
    your ecommerce store; they hage themes that might mset your requirements.

  21. Вon, jе n’ai guèrе fni de regarder par contre je repasse
    après

  22. I am no longer sure where you are getting your info, but great topic.

    I needs to spend some time learning more or working out more.
    Thanks for wonderful information I was in search of this info for
    my mission.

  23. By adopting this approach of ecommerce web advancement, the sale of the
    product or services raise instantly ovwr the internet which also without compromising the
    flow, characteristics annd performance.

  24. Hmm it looks ⅼiқe үour site ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I
    submіtted and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blοg. I as
    well am an aspiring blog Ьlogger but I’m ѕtilⅼ new to the
    whole thing. Do you have any recommendations for
    firѕt-time blog writers? I’d certаinlʏ appreciate it.

  25. Inspiring story there. What happened after? Take care!

  26. This excellent website truly has all the information and facts I needed about this subject and didn’t know
    who to ask.

  27. Hi to all, as I am genuinely keen of reading this website’s
    post to be updated on a regular basis. It carries fastidious data.

  28. Hello, after reading this amazing piece of writing i am too delighted to
    share my experience here with friends.

  29. You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the highest quality websites
    on the web. I most certainly will recommend this site!

  30. Hi there, its nice piece of writing concerning media
    print, we all understand media is a impressive source of data.

  31. Great beat ! I wish to apprentice at the same time
    as you amend your site, how can i subscribe for a blog
    site? The account helped me a acceptable deal.
    I have been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast offered bright transparent idea

  32. This page really has all of the information and facts I wanted concerning this subject and didn’t know
    who to ask.

  33. This info is worth everyone’s attention. Where can I find out more?

  34. I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here.

    The sketch is attractive, your authored subject matter stylish.
    nonetheless, you command get got an nervousness over that you wish be delivering the following.
    unwell unquestionably come further formerly again as exactly
    the same nearly very often inside case you shield this hike.

  35. Everything is very open with a very clear clarification of the issues.

    It was truly informative. Your website is useful.
    Thanks for sharing!

  36. I needed to thank you for this good read!!
    I definitely enjoyed every bit of it. I have
    got you book marked to look at new things you post…

  37. We’re a gdoup of volunteers and starting a new schemee in our
    community. Your site provided us with valuable information to work on.
    You have done ann impressive job and our entire community will be grateful to you.

  38. The website needs too be having embedded software for purchasing cart as
    well ass display the responses from the earlier customers.

  39. Hmm it seems like your website ate my first comment (it was super
    long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to everything.
    Do you have any tips for beginner blog writers? I’d genuinely appreciate it.

  40. 都合の良い女探しならこちら

  41. I am ѵerү haρpy wіth the bamboo flooring I puгchased from Bamboo Flooring Hawaii.

  42. …Trackback: More Informations on that topic

    […]Wow, marvelous weblog format! How lengthy have you ever been running a blog for?[…]

  43. …Links

    […]I am not positive the place you’re getting your information, but great topic.[…]

  44. …Websites you should visit

    […]I am no longer certain the place you’re getting your information, but great topic.[…]

  45. …Links

    […]Wow, fantastic weblog structure! How lengthy have you ever been running a blog for?[…]

  46. …A Friend recommended your blog

    […]Great weblog right here! Additionally your website rather a lot up very fast![…]

  47. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my
    own weblog and was wondering what all is required to get set up?
    I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?
    I’m not very internet smart so I’m not 100% sure. Any tips or
    advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

  48. …Recent Blogroll Additions

    […]you made running a blog glance[…]

  49. Hey There. I discovered your weblog using msn. This is a really smartly written article.
    I’ll make sure to bookmark it and return to learn extra of your helpful info.

    Thanks for the post. I will certainly comeback.

  50. Como no habíamos contestado todavía por acá y si por correo,
    os comento una serie de detalles por las que las guías no
    están publicadas.

  51. …Recommended websites

    […]you make blogging glance[…]

  52. …Recommended websites

    […]you made running a blog glance[…]

  53. I read this paragraph completely regarding the comparison of latest and preceding
    technologies, it’s remarkable article.

  54. …Awesome website

    […]Excellent blog here! Also your site so much up fast![…]

  55. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d
    definitely donate to this outstanding blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.
    I look forward to new updates and will share this site with my Facebook group.
    Talk soon!

  56. I like the helpful іnfo you provide in your
    аrticles. I’ll bⲟokmark your weblog and check again here
    rᥱgularly. ӏ am quitᥱ sure I will learn many new stuff right here!
    Good luck for the next!

  57. …Awesome website

    […]you made running a blog glance[…]

  58. They ameliorate sone of the pricing by offerinng the
    Get Started” possibility at $14/mo – however to me the transaction charges come off as a
    con of using Shopify, particularly because you will not be sure about your gross sales quantity or profitability in the beginning.

  59. Em direção a festa da Bella será unicamente para as
    amiguinhas pois essa foi um pedido dela, que disse que
    apreciaria a passar em direção a tarde com as amigas.

  60. Unquestionably believe that which you stated. Your favorite justification appeared to be at the net the easiest factor to understand of.
    I say to you, I definitely get annoyed while people think about issues that
    they just don’t recognize about. You controlled to hit the nail upon the highest and defined out
    the whole thing with no need side-effects , folks could take a signal.
    Will probably be again to get more. Thank you

  61. http://www.girlkc.com/

    […]you made running a blog glance[…]

Leave a Reply

two × 5 =