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[Apr. 12th, 2013|06:05 am]
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Ug, i just realized i do have a video conference today. Do i have time to wash my hair? But i want to write....

Last night was the first successful "hangout" in the Parker Palmer workshop. Three of the four of us who attempted last week arrived and talked about the topics for an hour.

I continue to wrestle with the word and concept of community. I realized as we were ending our discussion one of the implications about the word community that discomforts me: the sense that there's a boundary. My experience is that the line people would draw around the same community is different, and i think that's why the concept of network (from a mathematical and computer science understanding) works for me.

Imagine a grid of streets, residential, extending multiple blocks and bounded by commercial streets. A geographer might call that entire area a neighborhood. Imagine that, for whatever reason, the area is divided into two different school districts. Would a parent in one district recognize a parent in another district as a member of the same community? Would a housebound person have the same perspective of who was in the community as someone who walked their dog blocks and blocks three times a day? One block might get together regularly for cookouts and other events: might a single person living on that block have a different sense of the community from a parent who also meets up with all the parents involved in the same events of their children?

My observation is that different people gauge different levels of common experience and common commitment before they consider someone in a community. Some of us are more inclusive, considering the neighbor who is only greeted when they are taking out the trash as part of the community, others see that person as holding back from the community and need to see the person engaged in other events before they would feel comfortable borrowing the proverbial cup of sugar.

When i imagine that grid of streets, i imagine the bright points of each person and the lines connecting them to others: some lines bold and strong, some lines tenuous. And while there might be a few people who have few connections, or only tenuous connections, my belief is that the interconnections of relationships more often make a larger "community" (as might be revealed in a network analysis) than an average individual might perceive.

An example http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2013/mar/15/twitter-users-tribes-language-analysis-tweets

I suppose i am experientially aware of what is known as the Friendship paradox: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friendship_paradox

Arg, off to meetings.


[User Picture]From: bobby1933
2013-04-12 07:20 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed this. It would make an excellent lecture on "groups"

You seem to see communities and groups as "processes" rather than "entities," processes whose nature changes from person to person, from time to time, from "role" to "role" Geographic "boundaries" once nearly definitive, are no longer very relevant. Political boundaries are mostly practical for political purposes only. If i live at one end of a row of houses my "neighborhood" may extend across the street and exclude people at the other end of "my own" block. I may share different interests with the people who attend my child's school than i do with people who attend "my" church, and i may belong to dozens of other "communities" as well. No person's "community" is identical with anybody else's. The closest thing to "sociological communities" (at least nowadays) are groups socially isolated or excluded by others (e.g. Indian Reservations) or groups that exclude others (fraternities, gated communities).
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