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  1. #1
    Senior Member UniqueMixture's Avatar
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    Default Building Pro-Social Communities

    How can we build communities that are mutually supportive and help both the individuals and the whole?
    For all that we have done, as a civilization, as individuals, the universe is not stable, and nor is any single thing within it. Stars consume themselves, the universe itself rushes apart, and we ourselves are composed of matter in constant flux. Colonies of cells in temporary alliance, replicating and decaying and housed within, an incandescent cloud of electrical impulses. This is reality, this is self knowledge, and the perception of it will, of course, make you dizzy.

  2. #2
    failure to thrive AphroditeGoneAwry's Avatar
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    I think there needs to be common areas for people to share tasks and commune together. Like big kitchens. I stayed in a hostel in Fernie BC one time and it was such a great feeling being in the huge kitchen area together cooking and preparing your families' breakfast amongst others doing the same task. I think hike/bike trails are necessary as well. Pools and workout areas, etc. That is, this would have to be designed like this. But community gardens are a good start. Things like that. Commons areas where people want to go versus staying indoors alone.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member UniqueMixture's Avatar
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    I am listening to an interview with an evolutionary biologist named David Sloan Wilson who believes that there are 8 keys to building pro-social communities. These are:

    1) a strong sense of group identity
    2) proportional costs and benefits for all residents
    3) consensus decision-making
    4) monitoring those who are anti-social
    5) providing graduated sanctions (ranging from minor slaps on the wrist to more serious sanctions for chronic infringers)
    6) fast, fair conflict resolution system
    7) autonomy/authority, nested within polycentric governance

    It's a very interesting discussion. He says that the best religions (most long lasting, largest, etc.) and other institutions do all of the above.

    He ran a project to apply his theory to the town of Binghampton, NY.

    Here is a related article:

    http://socialcapital.wordpress.com/2...rhood-project/

    Here is a video on Evolving the City:

    http://fora.tv/2010/09/29/David_Sloa...lving_the_City
    For all that we have done, as a civilization, as individuals, the universe is not stable, and nor is any single thing within it. Stars consume themselves, the universe itself rushes apart, and we ourselves are composed of matter in constant flux. Colonies of cells in temporary alliance, replicating and decaying and housed within, an incandescent cloud of electrical impulses. This is reality, this is self knowledge, and the perception of it will, of course, make you dizzy.

  4. #4
    Senior Member UniqueMixture's Avatar
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    Bumpin' cause I want @Lark 's opinion.
    For all that we have done, as a civilization, as individuals, the universe is not stable, and nor is any single thing within it. Stars consume themselves, the universe itself rushes apart, and we ourselves are composed of matter in constant flux. Colonies of cells in temporary alliance, replicating and decaying and housed within, an incandescent cloud of electrical impulses. This is reality, this is self knowledge, and the perception of it will, of course, make you dizzy.

  5. #5

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    I think that this is a very good question, of late the only people who I've seen thinking about it have been sources which I wouldnt usually would think of and I have to say I'm ambivalent about but there is a singular lack of vision elsewhere. For instance:-

    http://www.princeofwales.gov.uk/news...075448342.html

    (I might have messed up that link)

    The Prince's book, I got lately and it has a lot of filler pictures and content, on the other hand it tries to take to heart some ideas about sustainability which I felt were important and community too, there was an interesting hexagonal grouping of houses within walking distance of one another with a communal space in their centre, that's just one idea, there was more about how to create a lived "share and share alike" culture or at the very least the potential for one.

    I've read a lot about this and its one of my favourite topics, although I have to say that I'm not 100% convinced of many of the answers that I've read and most lately the most important things which I've reflected on are:-

    - Settled community. People need to be settled. I mean that in the literal sense that they are not living a life of constant commotion, movement and travelling. Now I know that there are some people who figure that the travelling life is great and there are some communities for which it is their identity but I've got to say that in my experience the most troubled individuals and families are those which are constantly on the move.

    Within housing services in northern ireland there is a virtual "circuit" which families move along, they move in some place new, have respite from whatever they left behind at their last stop for a bit, which is usually the attention of the authorities for neglectful or abusive parenting/caring of child or dependents, people they owe money to either in the community or debts they owe to businesses or the menaces or community resentment they could have built up. They have some new contacts, who dont know them but are often just like them. Eventually burn their bridges with them and fall out and off on the move again elsewhere. The cycle sets a pattern and tradition almost intergenerationally, sometimes its confounded by the fact that when kids are taken into care by the state the pattern reproduces itself with moves between care homes, while this can be made more rare with good practice with some its virtually impossible.

    This does set a pattern of behaviour and thinking, avoidance is a big factor here, avoidance in feeling particular ways and facing particular natural and logical consequences and its highly correlated with other sorts of avoidance behaviour like getting big into an addiction or other kinds of a chaotic lifestyle.

    - Privacy. This is a crucial factor in community life. For all that's shared there needs to be time, space and a life that isnt. It should be inviolable too without intrusion. Often a lot of anti-social behaviour arises from people intruding upon others privacy and personal space, no comprehension of appropriate boundaries between themselves and their neighbours or others lives and also there's a big factor which is peoples unwillingness or inability to tolerate being alone or spending time alone once in while.

    - Interpersonal contact. I think there should be contact between people or at least is potential and opportunity for the same. Just as respecting that if you got out of the right side of the bed and the sun is shining and you want to say Hi and talk may not be reciprocated, and that's alright, there should be no environmental obsticles to it or it should be something which is supported without imposition or exclusion. If its freely choosen and there's no or little negative consequences for opting out its a good thing. The organic nature of this couldnt be stressed more, its not going to sustain or be acceptable otherwise, perhaps one way or another you'll get people to conform to one or another idea but it's artifice if its not organic and will fall apart or be phony. The important thing about this interpersonal contact, from my perspective, is that people who are different can still relate, this overlaps with the boundaries thing too.

    - Intergenerational and old time/new resident contact. There has to be this too. Again I see this as important because this is one of those interfaces for conflict which can give rise to anti-social behaviour, instead it'd be nice if there was some learning and respect across generations, the opportunity for the transmission of experience and learning or at least an understand of one another so some of the dehumanisation or objectification which permits young people to torment the old and the old to vote for heavier penalties against the young doesnt take place. More recently I've reflected on how greater knowledge of just one or two generations ago among the present day youth or even more mature people, would I hope, have effected voting as they would know the extent to which, when they are being asked to accept cuts to public services and spending, that this has already happened. I also think that if this could prove successful then there could be sometime of a longer view taken about life, about politics, about a lot of things, so people dont get as impulsive and panicky as gnats or fruit flies about what they feel they need in order to be fufilled.

    - Consensus on basic expectations. Its hard to get pro-social behaviour when there's no agreement as to what that is.

    I take a negative view of what is pro-social a lot of the time, if people keep to themselves and are not actively being a nuisance I dont stress about the state of their garden or the disrepair of their fencing.

    This was an issue a couple of years back between ourselves and some neighbours, we thankfully dont actually share a boundary with them. They were very sure that a damaged fence, damaged in a storm, was effecting their happiness in the estate and the estate as a whole. That sort of mindset, which I find very middle class, is one I dislike a lot. It also led to them hosing down any pavements which my youngest brother had drawn on with his chalks when he was a small child, that bothered me too because sometimes the behaviour was so rapid that he'd come in to tell my mum about this great picture he'd drawn and by the time my mum came out to see it it had been washed away and they'd gone and hidden in their houses again.

    I think there can only ever be, and perhaps should only be sought on, agreement on the basics. Its not pro-social to seek a perfect consensus on peoples views on religion, politics, sexual habits etc. etc. For some people its nice when that occurs and they really want and crave it but I dont think its necessary to live that way and actually doing so could give you a head ache, heart burn and drive you crazy.

    Anyway, that's my thinking at the moment, a lot of that is vague and its not like adjustments to the built environment like having gardens front and back, everyone owning a tree, wind turbine and solar panelled roof, electricity and light cut off or "close" times, volume limiting fail safes on consumer durables, shared exercise facilities in a communal yard or garden at the centre piece of a number of inward facing properties all in a circle or semi-circle or anything so worked out as all that. Neither have a mentioned all the different interest groups, clubs and societies I'd like to see in any sort of schema to encourage or maintain pro-social behaviour. Or schools/schooling or norms of parenting and childhood or anything like that. Just trying to keep things short.

  6. #6
    mod love baby... Lady_X's Avatar
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    I think phobic might have a video for you...

    Hammocks.... Definitely the hammock philosophy.
    There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.
    -Jim Morrison

  7. #7
    Senior Member UniqueMixture's Avatar
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    @Lark. Just a quick comment until I have some time for a fuller response. I believe that when communities first evolved they were similar to what you describe. Smaller autonomous villages. I think that there were evolutionary pressures pushing for unification however, because genes which took risks to establish trade between communities, those who went to many communities to find suitable mates, and those who became bandits and so forth preying on communities with no protection became favoured. How do you establish such a structure internationally without being subject to the same pitfalls of the days of yore? Also, it would seem a GLOBAL power would be necessary to impose such a regime which would mean further concentration of power and the potential abuse of that power. Is there any way to decentralize power itself so this is possible? I believe this would have to be a sustainable pattern arising out of patterns on the molecular level and I am not sure this is possible.
    For all that we have done, as a civilization, as individuals, the universe is not stable, and nor is any single thing within it. Stars consume themselves, the universe itself rushes apart, and we ourselves are composed of matter in constant flux. Colonies of cells in temporary alliance, replicating and decaying and housed within, an incandescent cloud of electrical impulses. This is reality, this is self knowledge, and the perception of it will, of course, make you dizzy.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by UniqueMixture View Post
    @Lark. Just a quick comment until I have some time for a fuller response. I believe that when communities first evolved they were similar to what you describe. Smaller autonomous villages. I think that there were evolutionary pressures pushing for unification however, because genes which took risks to establish trade between communities, those who went to many communities to find suitable mates, and those who became bandits and so forth preying on communities with no protection became favoured. How do you establish such a structure internationally without being subject to the same pitfalls of the days of yore? Also, it would seem a GLOBAL power would be necessary to impose such a regime which would mean further concentration of power and the potential abuse of that power. Is there any way to decentralize power itself so this is possible? I believe this would have to be a sustainable pattern arising out of patterns on the molecular level and I am not sure this is possible.
    Dude sometimes your posts seem to be pretty together and to the point other times they seem really disorders and confused, I got to say this is one of those times.

    OK, so settlements, you believe the they failed to sustain themselves because of trade and banditry and that trade and banditry were genetically determined? I'm really not sure about that at all, if anything led to the decline of villages and the rise of urbanism/urbanity it was the industrial revolution, enclosure and capitalism, sociology not biology.

    Why would a global power be necessary to impose pro-social behaviour? I said that I dont think its something that can be imposed or something with a sembalence can only be imposed for a time before it disappears or decays.

    I'm not sure either why structures on the international level are something to concern yourself with its impossible on a less grand scale, if you cant have anything resembling and "architecture" supportive of pro-social behaviour on a local or national level then how do you leap to the international?

    I would believe what you've read in Dawkin's selfish gene, there's more than one good counter to that (badly written and flawed) book, I wont list them all but you can find them easily enough. They arent even all new either, if you just search the main criticisms of sociobiology or psychobiology online you'll find some of the best points made better than I could probably.

  9. #9
    Senior Member UniqueMixture's Avatar
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    Ok, that does sound interesting. I guess I tend to view the formation of city-states as a biological process that unfolds according to statistical probabilities just like the rest of the universe.
    For all that we have done, as a civilization, as individuals, the universe is not stable, and nor is any single thing within it. Stars consume themselves, the universe itself rushes apart, and we ourselves are composed of matter in constant flux. Colonies of cells in temporary alliance, replicating and decaying and housed within, an incandescent cloud of electrical impulses. This is reality, this is self knowledge, and the perception of it will, of course, make you dizzy.

  10. #10
    mod love baby... Lady_X's Avatar
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    I'm very intrigued by the whole idea of city planning around this concept.
    I love the idea of the hippy commune.. Maybe without the whole hippy bit. No reason it can't be a lil posh haha

    No really I can't imagine a more idealic way of life than living in a vibrant city with artists and musicians in the streets and people playing frisbee or volleyball out on the grass and great resturaunts and cafes in walking distance. Yes there are these types if communities in every city but my point is that each neighborhood should have a center communal area like this..places you can walk from your house

    I want more water woven throughout the city and people taking canoes to work or boat rides. This all really could be done much cooler. And totally siestas. I want the world to stop at lunch time and get together and enjoy each other. Sex your spouse or take a nap or a walk and great conversation with your mom or bet friend... Then go back to work. People shouldn't live for the weekends. We need to live everyday and make time for each other. Realize that person at the cafe has potential to enrich your life if you just say hi.

    I don't like urban sprawl I don't like the idea of the suburbs. I don't like all this distance I don't like the the priorities our culture seems to have.

    I think I should be elected president or at least city planner or queen or something for at least a lil bit.
    There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.
    -Jim Morrison

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