It seems as time progresses that an ever increasing number of people are starting to stand up and say “I want to live in a real community!” However, what defines community is somewhat elusive and can be highly variable. The definition of community depends upon the individual, family, or even a group of people.
For some it is just reaching out to and interacting more with their neighbors while others are leaving the cities and joining like minded people to start a whole new village – eschewing what they consider the oppressiveness, the high crime rates to find or build something better. They all want something better for the future. A place where kids can run free and have fun without their parents having to worry.
Toni Morrison was quoted in Essence, July 1981: “I don’t think one parent can raise a child. I don’t think two parents can raise a child. You really need the whole village.”
Two incidents recently came to mind about parenting and children. Once was the police were called, several times, on a mother because she wasn’t close enough to her children who were riding bikes in the cul-de-sac where they lived, while the mother was sitting in a lawn chair in the front yard watching them. The second involved a mother who was actually arrested because she was in the house and her children were playing in the mothers front yard.
When I was young I was like most children in that you respected your parents (even if you pushed the boundaries). You played in the front yard, the back yard, the neighbors yard – but you didn’t dare cross the street unless mom & pop said you were old enough and responsible enough to do so safely and that very act opened up a whole new world to explore while getting bumps, bruises and dirty! Then, when you were old enough to ride your bike without supervision the world was yours for the taking.
The world was decidedly different back then as every adult in your neighborhood kept an eye on you – not spying mind you. Just an eye on you if anything should happen that you needed help.
People are looking to return to those days, at the very least for safety and freedom. The freedom to not have the police called on you because your child was in your front yard and you were inside.
Reflecting back, I guess I could feel the changes that were happening. As I got older and would very often be out on 40+ mile solo bike rides by myself it seems that people were drawing in more to themselves and “hiding” in their homes. Interaction between neighbors was declining. Fewer gatherings – parties, celebrations and such. It has now reached a point where people have become fearful, distrustful and unthinking as they are starting to impose their values, morals and beliefs on others.
In the 1970’s, growing out of the short lived commune movement, a new way of thinking began to emerge. It really wasn’t new as it was how our many generations back ancestors tended to live. By gathering into small communities for safety and for the good of everyone by trading goods and services. Now 40 years out, this idea is once again starting to take root, sprouting from seeds planted long ago.
These communities were pretty self sufficient having most of the goods and services they needed right there, but trading with other villages when something was not immediately available. Economics was not a problem. If one village had collapsed it did not, as a general rule, cause surrounding villages to collapse, but then again, back then there really wasn’t anything called an economy that ran by complex rules. There was no “globalization”.
Evelyn and I have been involved in several different communities and each was unique and in various stages of development. Earthaven Ecovillage outside of Black Mountain NC is one that is devoted mostly to the physical aspects of being a community. Sacred Mountain Sanctuary is another but it is more geared towards spirituality and reconnecting to the land in a spiritual way.
No matter how you slice and dice it community should be based around the simple concept of a hyper local economy where 90%+ of your needs are met within a 20 minute walk. You really should check them out as they all offer something for your mind, body and spirit. If you so wish you can check out the Fellowship for Intentional Community website where you can find a list of hundreds of communities for you visit.