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  • damariszehner

Discussion Forum: Community

Updated: Jan 31, 2020

There are, it seems to me, three ways people can think about community these days. They can worry that it is missing in modern, atomized society; they can feel that there are still vibrant communities that have just shifted from physical to cyber space; or they can thank their lucky stars that they escaped the oppressive, always-in-your-business, small-town community that has been the norm in other times and places.

Robert Putnam, in Bowling Alone, and Sebastian Junger, in Tribe, take the first view. The Pew Research Center suggests that many Americans take the second; and books like Lake Wobegon Days and blogs like this one deal with the freedom of moving away.

So which group do you fall into? What is a community? What functions do communities fulfill in society and in individual lives? Are those functions ever in conflict with each other? Are communities in America and other developed nations healthy or not? If not, how could we improve, and what sacrifices or adjustments would we have to make to have better ones? Be communal: join in!

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Sep 17, 2019

Correction: Sermon references, not poetry references. My bad.


Sep 17, 2019

Awilliam: You say, " The relationship between Affluence and Community/Anonymity is too much overlooked." Great point. A few years ago I was taking training in the Bridges out of Poverty model as part of my job teaching at community college. One of the most striking differences that the original author of the study mentions between middle class and poor is what they rely on. People with some means rely more on income, employment, and education, whereas poor people rely on relationships. That is why so many of my students will miss crucial classes/points to attend a distant relative's birth at the hospital or will be unable to finish class because they took in some down-and-out friend and got their …


Sep 16, 2019

> I wonder if it would work in a variety of neighborhoods -- downtown, suburb, rural.

I do not know. I am aware of a couple of similar successes in the small-town context. However the failures are likely to be silent and thus uncounted.

We've talked about the suburban context before - a place designed from the stones up to facilitate "the anonymity of typical urban life", although I'd substitute "modern" for "urban". The suburbs fail the human-scaled test - as you refer to in the response to Jody@. Affluence, always associated with the suburbs, also makes it possible to live with a higher degree of anonymity. Yet as poverty in the suburbs rises, which it rapidly is, how wi…


Sep 15, 2019

Jody's last paragraph is scientifically correct. Personal, emotional connection and physical contact are genuine needs for human health. And human-scale communities are the only place to get it. Jody's story involves a small town in Minnesota, but it could just as easily happen on a block in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn. It doesn't have to be a small town. It just has to be human-scaled.

I know this has been Donne before, but this seems a good way of expressing what I feel:

"No man is an island, Entire of itself, Every man is a piece of the continent, A part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less. As well as if a promontory were. As well…


Sep 14, 2019

Which group do I fall into? All three to some extent. I worry that families are becoming more atomized, with children and parents absorbed in their electronic devices (often in their separate bedrooms) as opposed to doing things together and sharing conversation. I've noticed people sitting at the same table in restaurants staring at their phone rather than talking to the person across the table. Anyone sitting in a waiting room pays more attention to their phone than the people sitting next to them. We join fewer groups where we live, because the time commitment makes life even more hurried. A generation ago parents became taxi service for children who joined sports teams, dance, music lessons, etc. Women mov…

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