Thursday, October 11, 2007

Revisiting Community

I've been continuing the long discussion on community and I'm coming to a number of conclusions. While communal living has numerous attractions it isn't the solution for the many, I think realistically the majority will never buy into it. On the flip side the status quo holds limited attraction also with many realising it falls short in so many ways.

So just like politicians we're searching for the popular middle ground. What does that look like? How do you move away from the strongly individualistic (where we are right now) and yet avoid the one big house and some chickens scenario? 

1) I think proximity is a must, you need to live close enough to others to share, swap, live. This probably should be no more than a 5-10 minute walk. Beyond that we're hopping in and out or cars which is polluting and hasslesome. 

2) There should be some intentional thinking about sharing - what's available, what's not. Some things are easier than others, tools and garden equipment for example. Perhaps some creativity could go into with the sharing of chores as well as time. Giving an element of work. If 3 or 4 of us clean house together it gets done quicker, yet we share work and time together, creating companionship and fighting loneliness. Other ideas?

3) Financial accountability. Not to curb spendng but to increase generosity. Not a law that is required but a sought for intentional commitment to be open, to give, to share. 

4) As Christians some thought how to meet the needs or bless those immediately around you, so together influencing your neighbours. Perhaps Life Groups/ Cell groups would be better organised geographically encouraging this kind of thinking. 

That's as far as I've got. What have I got wrong or what would you add in? 


Anonymous said...

I think the point about proximity is key. I'd even suggest that you need to be at most 1 or 2 minutes walk away from each other for this to work. If you're out of stones throw reach then its too far!

Jeremy said...

This middle ground community is the conclusion I came to as well, and actually experienced it briefly after university, when several of us lived within minutes of each other. The result, all of us being relatively poor, was that I had a washing machine, and good coffee, and a little tv, and people came to me for those. I'd come downstairs and find someone loading the washing machine, someone else cooking bacon, someone watching the news, none of them invited, they'd just let themselves in. It was great. There were always people around, sharing life.
Others had an internet connection, or a garden, or a car, so I'd be round at theirs for those, and we all lived with less.
That's quite countercultural in a society that tells us that personal acquisition is the ultimate goal. Sadly there were no jobs in Stoke on Trent and we all had to move out, and it all kind of dissipated, but at least I got a year of seeing it can work.
Imagine how much we'd have to give away if we did that in church now? Just one thing - if there was one lawn mower between ten suburban christian families for example, and it was stored centrally and made available. That alone would free up the best part of a thousand pounds to give to something useful. Multiply that across all of our many possessions, with common projects like allotments, common book and DVD collections, car pooling, timesharing a holiday home so the poorer members of the community have cheap holidays too, buying in bulk together, shared bike and tool sheds, micro-loans from richer members to help young couples buy a house, joint childcare... all of a sudden you have a community where the neighbours start saying 'look at the way these christians love each other'.

Sorry, long comment, but it's an exciting vision.

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