Section 2 — Spring
Spring is a time we see the seeds we planted during our visioning stage begin to emerge into the light of day. This section focuses on the two kinds of structures needed to build community. The first, and in my opinion the most important, are soft structures — legal agreements and governance structures. We will examine these first, exploring how they support the effective interaction and collaboration among stakeholders that is KEY to having a harmonious community experience. Then we will look at issues of architecture and site design.
Social beings need the loving support of others to thrive. Though most of us have a deep yearning for a loving community, questions make us cautious. Will there be much conflict? How do people resolve their differences? Will I have enough privacy? Enough autonomy?
Will I feel as though I’m actually less empowered to direct my life, or will it be better? Will strong personalities dominate meetings and decision-making so that I have to put up with an undercurrent of tension and resentment? Will it be worth all the adjustment required?
Boiled down, all these concerns revolve around getting along with others. As much as we need people in our lives, our individualistic lifestyles and structured roles within hierarchical work situations rarely prepare us to negotiate or collaborate with others as equals. Among the tools that can resolve these dilemmas — and one I highly recommend to any organization where equality, transparency, and shared leadership are highly valued — is Dynamic Governance. I explore it
in my piece, “Dynamic Governance and Sharing Lives," then illustrate how it works with a story
by Larilee Suiter about a community where it was used.
“Aging in place” — staying in your own home until the end of life — is, according to research, most people’s preference. Economics is a factor here: for many, the costs of building or moving into “intentional” or other specialized communities is prohibitive. An affordable and promising approach to aging in place — namely, creating community within our existing neighborhoods — is currently attracting a lot of attention. In “The Sharing Solution” I preview a recent book by attorney Janelle Orsi
and then excerpt brief articles by her on (1) urban agriculture and how cities
should encourage it, (2) using homes as neighborhood sharing hubs, and (3) how to make our neighborhoods more sharing environments.
The remaining articles in Section 2 focus on the “hard” structures of community. Alex Mawhinney, in “Intentional Elder-Friendly Communities,” surveys the almost dizzying array of alternatives currently being explored. Then cohousing expert Ann Zabaldo — in her engaging article, “Romancing the Developer” — provides good advice for anyone flirting with the idea of being their own developer.