Monday, March 28, 2011

On the building of community

It is clear that as important as individual actions (1, 2, 3, 4) are, the scale of the issues facing us are vast and dark. Addressing these issues will require the mobilisation of the hearts and minds of more than just a few people. Indeed, the importance of community cannot be understated.

On the day before the one year anniversary of this project, I hope that this project has been worthwhile for you to read about, because it has been an extremely wonderful journey for me. It is my sincere hope that I have not been forceful in imposing my views on other people, and if I have, I apologise. My hope is that this is just the beginning of a conversation, the building of a community. I was talking to Melissa yesterday about the new section to the blog, Traveling at home. She was excited about it, particularly because one of the important aspects of it is the building of community. She felt though, on the other hand, that this current project could have the potential of alienating people. I wanted to speak to the building of community that can arise out of individual actions that stand in direct opposition to the status quo.

I fully understand that my thoughts on this subject are naive, but I have experienced nothing short of wonderful positive energy and thoughts over the past year. Many people don't believe or do what I do, and that is okay. I think there are two ways to go about living, particularly if you are trying to induce a change in behaviour - with whatever you do, you can alienate people, or you can encourage people. Any behaviour either reinforces norms, or speaks out against them. It is plain to see that there are vast organisations, companies, neighbourhoods and communities that are invested in behaving a certain way. Many of these behaviours are ecologically degrading. Given these vast investments, any behaviour that stands in opposition to them is sure to affect large numbers of people, or at the very minimum, speak out against them. At the same time, I am surrounded by friends and family, people that actually have faces and names to me, and people whose facial expressions and words affect me immediately and directly.

I believe that it is easy to alienate people even when if message comes with a clear conscience. As cliche as this may sound, the conversation is important, not the antagonism, and a convincing argument followed up with steadfast action is a steady rock. Any new course of behaviour must come from somewhere. And I can only hope that the combined power of words and actions will serve their purpose of growing some communities, speaking out against others, while at the same time maintaining civility and respect.


  1. I agree that one can alienate or encourage others. However, I disagree this represents a dichotomy. I think one could also simultaneously encourage and alienate or could simultaneously neither alienate nor encourage. Either/or arguments are easy to phrase and communicate, but they are not always true.

    A Mathematically Trained Jerk

  2. Can you elaborate a little bit more? Maybe provide an example?