SMALL LOCAL COMMUNITIES
The fundamental form for optimum living is the small local community. Small
implies a limited number of people, making association with all
members possible at some level. Local communities imply a limited space
within which the community is contained. A small community dispersed over a
large geographical area makes face-to-face interaction more difficult.
Small and local imply a limited number of people, from a few hundred to a
few thousand, with most of the social interaction being face-to-face.
HOW TO APPLY
COMMUNITY IN YOUR LOCALE
The nature of the small local communities can be applied both in the ideal
form (small and local) as well as the less ideal form (larger and more dispersed).
The basic step to apply community is to organize for some domain of activity,
issue or interest and to make change in the selected area by a process of
face-to-face interactions. (Face-to-face interactions are a definite
requirement.) The organization may be of many forms but the issues should be
those basic ones associated with community and people living together.
OTHER POPULAR COMMUNITY
Families - The family is often referred to as the basic institution
society. It is where individual values and standards are set in
childhood. However, it is insufficient for development of societal values
and ways of being in society. Extended families offer more advantages in
learning community values than nuclear families, but do not provide enough
of a basis for developing all the qualities of community.
After the family, the neighborhood is the next extension into community. It
is based on geographical proximity and is limited in number to a few
people. Initially it has the most significance to children as they explore
outside their family members and the family domicile. However, the
to which it can be directed are limited, since often work, education and
even extended family relationships are not available within a neighborhood.
Groups - Such groups can have many of the values and qualities of small
local communities. The workplace can be one example of a special interest
group. Others groups form around education (PTA), economics (Chamber of
Commerce), politics (League of Women Voters), and charity drives (Community
Trust). Trade unions, sport clubs and churches are also groups which can
have a strong community orientation. These special interest groups do not
address the community as a whole, although they can be positive and
useful. As a result, they do not normally lead to a strong small local community.
- 100 years ago over 90% of the world lived in small local communities. This has held true since the beginning of
humankind. In recent decades, particularly since the Second World War, there
has been major immigration into the cities from the small communities. Now
about half the world’s populations live in urban areas. In the United
States, approximately 80% of the population resides in urban areas and most
of these contain over 1 million people in population count, with many
approaching 10 million.
In such communities face-to-face
interactions are limited, since the ordinary processes of living imply an
inordinate amount of automobile commuting. As urban areas grow larger, the
possibilities of small local communities further decrease and the values of the small
community tend to disappear. The suburb becomes little more than an extended
neighborhood. Typically the parents of suburban families do not work
in their local community. Thus the referral to “bedroom communities”.
- In the past two decades, economic policies and telecommunications
advances have permitted a different approach to economics. The fundamental
principle of the global community as practiced is an increasing volume of
trade and a tendency toward extending the capitalistic competitive model of
work to all countries in the world. The overall goal is some form of
economic integration. There is no emphasis on community values and no
interest in face-to-face communication.
Communities/Teams - In recent years corporations have emphasized
certain values that may or may not be associated with those of the
small local community. In fact, the values of corporations are
diametrically opposed to the values of the small local community. Where
caring and compassion are basic to small communities, these values are
replaced by competition and wealth development in the corporation. The
corporate model is the war or the sports game, always having a winner or a loser.
The social measurement of the corporation is the famous “bottom line”. The
loyalty of worker to company and company to worker and community have
declined precipitously beginning in the 1980s, which has had a deleterious
affect on the small local community.
Communities - The bioregionalism movement, which developed in the 1980's,
suggested organizing the population by bioregion. Considering the
number of bioregions proposed, it appears that more than anything else such
an approach would be a reorganization of existing state boundaries.
Regionalism could be useful, particularly if organized as an extension of a
set of small communities.
- In the 1990s, the spread of the Internet brought forth the concept of
Virtual Communities, which consist of people living anywhere in the world
and communicating by e-mail, never meeting face to face. This is
an extension of the concept of special interest groups except on a larger
scale. Rather than a unique way of relating with people, the Internet is best viewed
as an extension of the town post office, library and newspaper. It is
useful for communication between special interest groups.