Many Types of Community

In this page we look at a series of different points of view which are useful to consider when pondering the subject "community".

We notice that some of our destructive patterns tend to have a fractal nature: we reproduce outside what we believe inside, and then that in turn affects how we think, etc. .. a chicken & egg situation. 

One of the patterns seems to be a tendency for monoculture & another our tendency to focus more on form or appearance, rather than function or content.

Here is a 4 quadrant (integral) journey into the various perspectives we need to take into account when seriously considering this (and any other) design challenge.

Many types of Community

It seems to be a widespread assumption that  'community' refers only (or mainly) to eco-villages.    This often leads to people who want to experience living in community to look anywhere but where they are for this mysterious creature, & also tend to think in terms of 

'hardware' (the externals: find a nicer place, build new 'eco-houses', find 'the right' people to build 'community' with .. etc.) 

instead of

'software' (the internals: build more fertile connections, design better, make good use of existing resources, improve education .. & especially build relationships & value difference).

But ... 
  • which of these do you suppose results in more consumption
  • & using more resources?
  • which might favour the better-off 
  • over the poor?
  • (and what would that result in, eventually, if everyone who could afford such a luxury, went off to create new 'eco-villages'?)
  • how sustainable can it be (overall) to build more houses
  • when we already have (overall) more houses than people? 
  • what kind of thinking is it to prefer 'brand new things' to 'repairing old things'?  
  • how coherent is it to talk about resource-conservation or recycling if we feel we need to build whole new communities to enable that?
  • what kind of thinking is it to suppose change can be achieved (only, better or quicker..) by changing things rather than people & our way of thinking?

About the Island of Eigg

Immagine living in a community where you simply all decided you wanted major change, and that you would stop at nothing to achieve it? That’s what the 100 residents of Eigg have done over the last 20 years. In 1997 they set up a community trust and managed to crowdfund £1.6m from 10,000 donations to buy the entire island, which they then all shared without any one owner.

Each of the residents then agreed to pay rent to the community, and they used that money to improve the island. They set up “Eigg Electric”, and in 2008, Eigg became the world’s first community to launch a fully off-grid power system combining wind, water and solar.

The residents taught themselves how to install the solar panels, wind farm and hydroelectric generators, which now deliver 95% of the island’s energy needs (with generators kicking in only on the few days when they are needed). On many days, the system generates more energy than the residents need, and the excess is used to heat community halls where everyone benefits.

Eigg has now become a global destination for governments looking at how to replicate both the community spirit and off-grid system. As it celebrates its 20th year of ‘independence’ from any private ownership this year, it has been called “The greenest island in the world” by Al Jazeera.

As many wait for governments or corporations to lead change (or blame them for not), more and more examples of communities successfully taking charge and being the change are emerging.

If 100 citizens in a corner of Scotland can achieve this, what could you achieve?

“Change almost never fails because it’s too early. It almost always fails because it’s too late.” ~ Seth Godin

-Roger James Hamilton

Vídeo de YouTube

Different Definitions of Community

These videos below represent and describe some quite different definitions of 'community'.

If you are looking for (or to design) 'community', a very useful observation excercise can be to consider which one/s of these approaches most appeals to you, and why.

The clearer we are about what it is that we are wishing to find or to design, the more likely it is that we will find it or be able to create it.

The full integral permaculture course includes a lot more resources and especially models for designing healthier communities of all types, focusing on sustainability.

Neighbourhood Houses


Community is a Verb

Community: Building connections to Sustainability

Empathy & Understanding

are not only the basis of community, but, ultimately, of any rational systemic design
in this lecture Sam Richards proposes A Radical Experiment in Empathy

Empathy as an Evolutionary Necessity

Resilient Communities

in 6 parts, follow the videos here

Assumptions are always basic to any vision or discourse and these are Heinberg's 8 Assumptionsexplained in detail in this presentation:

1) Global oil production is near an all-time maximum & will continue to decline ... coal and gas peaks not far behind

2) Consequences will be severe (see part 2)

3) There is no techno-fix

4) Therefore society will have to power-down (reduce & relocalize, implying changes in behaviour & expectations)  see part 3

5) Meanwhile, Climate Change poses a thorny challenge ...

6) Climate Change makes global Powerdown necessary, Peak Oil means it is not only possible but unavoidable

7) The Powerdown process will be complex, lengthy & perilous 

8) These are not the only looming crises - nor even necessarily the most imminent