Convener: Catherine Bradshaw, email@example.com
Participants: Bernard Brennan, Allan Brison, Terry Halwes, Moses, Maria Tupper, Meg, Maria Pinango, Randy, Fred Cervin, Marge Allende, Sara Kirschner, Ethan Drozd, Marion Gehlker (others came and went)
Started by asking "What is Community?"
Repeated, positive, mutually supporting, easy access to each other, proximity, shared values and ideals, shared circumstances...
We have concentric circles of community - family, neighborhood, school, religious group, town, etc.
How can we foster community?
In an economic downturn, will community happen naturally, or will people feel pitted against each other for limited resources?
Community is something that comes naturally to us as human beings but there are barriers that get in the way of it. If you leave people alone, they'll build community.
Obstacle: fast-paced life - we're coerced into doing things to survive such as hold down a job so we can pay the rent and buy insurance, etc. - this robs us of time that could be put toward building community
Obstacle: have to contend with people who live by survival of the fittest
But we want to have choices - the choice to have a car, etc.
Choices set up momentum - you have a child and that leads to material needs that require a certain income, etc., etc.
There's wealth in creating time to do things like building community - different kind of wealth than monetary wealth, but perhaps just as or more valuable
We need to get down to scale of neighborhoods/blocks so that we're connected to those around us for mutual dependence and support.
But we're residentially segregated by class and we know that diversity is a strength. In dire economic circumstances, post-peak oil world, the privileged will no longer be privileged and will need the wisdom and skills of those who were low-income to survive. People in poverty already know how to do more with less.
How can we start to build the resilience of stronger community so that we'll be ready when the dire circumstances are upon us?
Create eco-villages, or co-housing arrangements, cooperative houses - neighborhoods on purpose.
But so far, those involved in New Haven co-housing are white, educated, middle-class, middle-aged, financially comfortable (these are the people who have the time and resources to pull such a project together). When a site is chosen, they expect younger and more diverse families will join.
Research showed that 90% of attempts at forming intential communities failed; 75% of co-housing projects failed (from Creating a Life Together, by Diana Leafe Christian.)
Those that survive are good at consensus decision-making. C.T. Butler wrote the book on formal consensus, Conflict and Consensus. Start by agreeing on a common vision.
One idea is to map out the assets of a neighborhood, including the skills, talents of the individual members. Bob Francis is a local expert with this - lives in Bridgeport area. Catherine Bradshaw can contact him.
Community Yard Farm sharing - people in a neighborhood growing various things and sharing among each other
Tool library - people in a neighborhood owning a set of tools together that they share among themselves.
Does the city of New Haven support communities in forming neighborhood groups?
Those that are active seem to have sprung up on their own.
We can learn from those that have been successful about what's helped them do what they do
The example of Cuba when it lost the Soviet support -- The Power of Community (movie and web site) -- the whole country switched to labor-intensive organic agriculture.