Monday, October 6, 2008

Communities and Cooperatives

Just as there were different meanings for simplicity and equality, there are different meanings for community.

I'll start off with three types of community: Geographic communities (these are groups living in close proximity, and include things like neighbourhoods, villages, towns, or even whole cities), communities of culture/identity/interests (this is an umbrella term that includes things like "the gay community", "the black community", "the women's community", "professional communities", etc, etc, etc), and intentional communities (which includes a spectrum from 'communes' and coop houses, to things like cohousing, ecovillages, and land trusts--see my next post for more). (There are other different types of communities but these are the ones that I want to focus on.)

To confuse things more I'll throw in various types of cooperatives: Housing cooperatives, Building cooperatives, Utility cooperatives, Worker cooperatives, Consumer cooperatives, Agricultural cooperatives, and various kinds of cooperative banking (such as credit unions and cooperative savings banks).

So, what are the commonalities here? I'll focus on three particular aspects of communities and cooperatives: cooperation, connection, and sharing. I see these as interrelated.
It's all about cooperation, working together. (The various cooperative societies trace their names back to Robert Owen's "villages of co-operation" and William King's paper, The Cooperator.)

Working together we can achieve more than any of us can achieve alone.
But more than that, it's about connection. As I wrote in an early post on Love and Affection (7/28/08), there is a human need for connection. As we work together and live together, we support each other and touch each other and we realize that we are not alone.

And, finally, it's about sharing--something that we teach children at an early age, but many adults don't seem to get. The more we share, the more communal we make our resources, the more that we have access to. Instead of having the attitude of 'Mine. Mine. Mine.', creating little boxes with walls around everything, community and cooperation offer wide open spaces with enough for everyone, including enough connection and affection to get us through, and enough cooperative strength to create what we need.

Cooperation, connection, sharing. All the communities--geographic, cultural, or intentional--and all the cooperative groups, potentially offer this. It's what community and cooperation is about.
Next, intentional communities.

Quote of the day: "We are tired to death of swimming upstream alone; we want to feel grounded, connected, to be able to touch the earth and put down roots. We are searching for simplicity and balance in our lives, for comradeship and challenge in our work and our relationships. We feel the need for hope, for possibilities in the midst of despair, for integrity and wholeness in the struggle against alienation, for stability in place of rootlessness, for nuturing and closeness based on equality and respect, not on obligation and exploitation. These needs dictate the journey that leads us to community." - Helen Forsey
Word (or phrase) of the day: Transition Towns
Hero(es) of the day: Adrienne Rich


SoapBoxTech said...

I love reading your posts.

MoonRaven said...

Thank you, sbt. I've been enjoying your blog as well.