Common Life-affirming Community Practices
Many of the wholistic discoveries of better ways of living that emerged in cities and were lived in community neighbourhoods, became the bedrock of wholistic communities, and practised as part of everyday, living reality.
Meetings, Steering and Creative Decision Making
Wholistic communities are created with an ethos of goodwill, trust and cooperation, and a common commitment towards creating a better community for all. This enables a more refined level of decision-making. Brainstorming and ideas sharing, instead of debates, are the more usual atmosphere of meetings. Consensus decision making, without manipulation, becomes normal, natural and preferred; win-win, multiple outcome solutions are sought as normal wholistic expectations. Steering is often by an ever-improving, common community vision that arises in the atmosphere of free, creative discussion in the pursuit of greater clarity and understanding. Sharing creative ideas takes the place of gossip in interpersonal communication.
The result is an intelligent, highly effective, long-term, error-free, solutions-based communication process, which is interesting, optimistic, exciting, enjoyable, exhilarating and compassionately wise, generally with:
- less debates and more discussions;
- less arguments and more ideas sharing;
- less politics and more empowerment;
- less structured meetings and more community gatherings;
- less imposed controls and more shared goals;
- less selfishness and more community spiritedness.
- less conflict and more overall harmony;
- less vested interests and more community consciousness.
Fluid Group Dynamics
In this process, the person best equipped for a given project takes the lead for the duration of that project alone; when the goal is reached, they release the reins to others, best equipped for the next projects. The process is depends on a free exchange of ideas and so that that all problems can be creatively overcome. This process produces better, more effective outcomes, while increasing group cohesion and harmony.
Intelligent community design includes cluster housing and neighbourhood creation to facilitate good neighbourly relations, free of structural conflicts. Participation in planning and design is encouraged in a sense of shared responsibility. Designs focus on increasing social contact, whilst allowing for privacy and seclusion, and common areas are seen as integral to community well being.
Community Resource Centres
Resource Centres are the mind of a community, where information can be shared and exchanged, and new ideas floated. Notice boards can let somebody, anybody or everybody know about something. Community Libraries of resident-loaned books enable cutting-edge ideas to spread naturally, under their own momentum, and at their own speed, without pressure or effort, convincing or persuading, or agreements. Each person can come to his or her own understanding, and become educated, not indoctrinated.
Community Centres are the heart of the community, where important community activities can happen. They are places to be used by all, for individual and community use. A place of gathering for special occasions, when people have the opportunity to be good company for each other; and a place for festivities as well as for more serious, solemn and sincere occasions.
Community Work Practices
Cooperative work practices, without emphasis on class structure, job status, race or gender, opens up many advanced work practices that enable greater efficiency and effectiveness, and serve to achieve multiple, win-win problem solving, including: job-sharing, multi-skilling, team-focusing, task-exchanging, flexibility, brainstorming and group discussions. By employing innovative design, flexible structures and caring attitudes, communities can embrace creative, wholistic ways of approaching work.
Community Business Management
Community management recognises that a community business exists to responsibly serve the customer, even as it empowers the workers and uplifts the community. Community management is recognised as above all, managing people. People are what make the difference. People change the world. Managerial excellence, in the final analysis depends upon openness, honesty, fairness, decency, trust and goodwill towards all workers at every level.
Community Cottage Industries
Communities are excellent places for cottage industries, and if done intelligently can effect a captured market of fellow residents, and if the business grows, a guaranteed workforce. Working with friends with goodwill in a trusting relationship is highly facilitative of personal growth and self-actualisation.
Community Organic Gardens
Community organic gardens can be a good supplement to a backyard garden, and can offer economics of scale with a shared workload. This can be helpful to growing certain, labour intensive foods, and may be a source of income through selling organic foods in nearby towns.
Community Bulk Food Coops
Communities are excellent places to run bulk food stores, as have a captured market and can purchase bulk foods cheaply and pass on benefits, and there are many available workers to share the load.
Natural, Healthy Diet
Many people living in communities practice a natural, healthy diet as a means of regaining and maintaining good health, and as part of preventative medicine. Many illnesses that people suffer from can be cured by adjusting the diet to include helpful and avoid unhelpful foods. By adhering to a natural diet, bodies become sensitive to and hungry for what is nourishing for their needs. The right foods to nourish and strengthen a body’s weak points are the first line of medicine, and give rise to those specific hungers that will address those needs, empowering bodies with vitality and resilience, without engaging in fad diets, or needing to go to athletic extremes. See also “preventative medicine”.
Many people in communities, being remote from medical facilities assist each other with natural remedies. Practising safe, natural remedies, free from side effects, is common practice on communities, and together with a natural, healthy diet, is generally enough to keep a person in good health. The standard of health in most sustainable communities is usually far higher than the general population, being free from many of the causes of failing health.
Intelligent, sustainable designs are able to improve many housing facets, including:
- Laying out rooms for comfort, aesthetics and optimum functionality;
- Aligning with the sun for sunlight or shade in different parts of the house during different times of the day;
- Sighting for wind and rain protection;
- Designing for natural ventilation and passive heating and cooling;
- Verandahs for open-air shade and precooling house ventilation.
- Constructing roof overhangs to allow summer shade and winter sun
- Building in heat sinks and conductors;
- Beneath-floor ventilation for cooling;
- Solar and wet-back fireplace water heating;
- Roof water collection, rain water tanks;
- Solar, wind and water powered electrical generation.
- Composting toilets and grey water irrigation.
Community Preschools and Primary Home Schools
Most communities abound with children, and healthy playful interaction is seen as important for growth, development and deepening friendships. Many communities run their own pre-schools and primary home-schools, so that more enjoyable and more effective methods of education could be practised. Multi-age classrooms enable fast and slow learners to learn at their own pace, and fast learners to become their helpers. New schools, based on improved methods of education, discovered and practiced in recent decades, include:
- Summerhill, a school set up for children expelled from other schools, which gave children an inordinate amount of freedom, and responsibility for exercising their own decisions. School attendance was voluntary and teachers had to make the class interesting enough to attract students. Children matured rapidly, and the school achieved results comparable to mainstream schools.
- Steiner schools orientate around the child’s natural seven year development cycles, providing beautiful, colourful, natural surroundings, emphasising the importance of childhood and play, and educating for a balance of ‘hands and heart and head’.
- Montessori schools emphasise children’s extraordinary passion for learning when they follow their own interests and develop their mind naturally by exploring the world with their senses.
Each of these new forms of education started up before WW2, and each has stood the test of time. Each recognises the importance of valuing the child’s spirit in developing a fully functional person, and teaches in supportive, non-interfering ways. Children learn much faster, and understand better, when their inner being is not crushed, regimented, threatened, imposed upon or otherwise stifled.
Joining a Community
In order to ensure compatibility with existing members and preserve community harmony, new members of a sustainable or intentional community may be selected by the community’s existing membership, rather than by real-estate agents, or by the person selling out, if that is how the new membership opening was generated.