How Do I Find Community in Complexity in my City?
Where do I find community in the city? In my neighborhoods. On the street. At my workplace. At my place of worship. In my cultural centres. With my communities of practice.
In thinking about the community, I find it useful to examine community systems as complex adaptive systems that are multi-relational, multi-scalable and multi-dynamic. In other words, it seems that community and complexity co-emerge by virtue of my life’s interconnections and interrelationships.
Community appears to be a complex adaptive living system with these qualities:
- user of simple rules
- subject to phase shifts
- potentially affected by weak signals
- field sensitive
As living systems, I can examine the threads of community in a similar way to the threads of my inner life (see What). Table 1 illustrates three key threads.
Table1: Community Threads
Why is Community Important?
Community is vital to my personal health and welfare. Without connecting to community, I lack the context to understand my individual capacity and how I make meaning from life’s experience. In other words I have no terms of reference. But within a community context, I gain the support to learn values, knowledge, behaviors and life skills. In fact, research shows, that people who are active in community are healthier, more motivated and live longer. That has to be an outstanding benefit of a healthy city.
If I want to change in any way, my community will support or challenge my intentions. If I want to change in a sustainable way, my community can help me to change my story and the way I tell that story internally and externally to make meaning of the change. This is clearly work (and play) that involves a constant discovery of the complexity of community.
Some of the ways that I can do that are:
- Become a storyteller, writer or artist
- Listen to storytellers; read; view/participate in art events
- Attend and/or initiate cultural events
- Attend church
- Create and/or attend support groups
- Belong to a community of practice, association or profession
- Support family relationships
- Make and or extend circles of friends, acquaintances
- Develop political, cultural, ethnic awareness