Friday, October 20, 2006

Defining "community"...and a response.

In September, I floated the following definition of "community" in hopes of getting a response. I drew one, which follows the definition.

Some of us have been trying to compose a short definition of a community. Here’s a draft version. See whether you agree with it. Suggestions welcomed.

A community is a place that has an identity, where people know and care about each other; a place that honors its history, looks to its future and lives fully in its present.

A community actively supports local businesses and institutions, including schools, libraries, civic organizations and parks. Together, they are both the physical and civic heart of the community. They are a safe and convenient walking distance for all.

Community members derive joy, strength and accomplishment from community involvement and recreation.

Communities are our homes.

A response:

Hi Rick,

I found it interesting that the draft definition of "community" in your column this month defined it as a place. I think of community as a group of people as opposed to a place.

From your column, "a community actively supports local businesses and institutions" - it is people who can and do provide that support, not bricks & concrete or grass. So if grandparents and charitable foundations support a school, they are part of that school's community, even if they are far away. I belong to the community at my children's school, another community made up of soccer families with children on my sons' teams, a women's backpacking community, and my neighborhood community. If community were only place, then it seems I could only belong to one. Communities could be on-line as well. I think "neighborhood" is a better term to define the place, and "community" is the people in the neighborhood.

So perhaps a community is a group of people who know and care about each other, who share concerns and values, who spend time together, and who derive joy, strength and accomplishment from being involved with one another.

Those are my thoughts - I look forward to reading about other feedback you get!
Take care,

Linda Bonder
-Bridlemile Neighborhood


Blogger Rick Seifert said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Linda.

As you will see from this link, community is a big word that includes everything we are talking about here....

"Neighborhood" may come closer to what I am talking about in a physical sense, but "community" captures the spirit of what we've trying to define. And certainly the same spirit can be found in other kinds of "communities," as you point out. In fact that spirit is what makes them communities.

2:22 PM  

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