Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Community of Interest › Community › What makes a community?
- December 6, 2007 at 12:24 am #39275Gabe AyersKeymaster
How would you define community? Often I think we tend to look at community through the lens of connected people – people working together or recreating together – but it is also the divergent opinions of people who will never see eye to eye and rarely cross paths that create community.
What is your opinion on this? What is community?December 13, 2007 at 1:43 pm #44644DubbaParticipant
A successful community is the expectation & realization that everyone will do what is necessary to ensure the survival of the community spirit & wellbeing.
I will try to watch out for my neighbors interests. Even if he is a millionaire & I am a pauper.
I will try to help my community or neighbors in a time of need & demand no payment. Even if the need results in a profit.
I will try to offer help even if there is no apparent need.
I will try to learn as much about my community as possible in order to make informed decisions about mutual concerns.
I will try to be a good steward of the land entrusted to me by the community.
I will not expect my community to act in kind, but will rejoice when it does.
I suppose a successful community will be overflowing with caring people. The sort of people who follow the speed limit, know when to gossip & when to keep their mouths shut.December 13, 2007 at 3:05 pm #44638
I think simply a community is a group of people who act together for the common good. Lack of community is when you have a group of people who are all after #1.December 13, 2007 at 11:17 pm #44634goodcompanionParticipant
I’m still looking for a community that isn’t made up mostly of morons.
Jokes aside, people are people and it seems to me you end up having to make peace with those around you however hard it is to understand them. Not having been born into farming myself, I had some choice as to where and how to begin farming and chose the champlain valley as the closest thing to a surviving agricultural community that one can find in the northeast. But we’re not part of a planned community or eco-village or anything like that, so some people around us understand us and some think we’re from the moon. Some remind us why we do what we do, others are barely tolerable.
I grew up just as the initial wave of back-to the-landers was ending, usually either through assimilation (trading the VW bus for a saturn), though some became successful in their farming ventures and kind of turned pro, so to speak, and a few others stayed put, decidedly did not turn pro, and in other respects stayed pretty much the same, eventually crossing a line from fiery hippie radical to crusty old curmudgeon.
But the joint ventures, the communes and cooperative farms, always ended badly, with financial messes, legal proceedings and/or hurt feelings. Yes, we need community to be more than lines on a map, our survival in fact depends on it, but I feel that we as americans are so very bad at cooperation and interdependence. The whole culture is aligned towards individualism; even a committed group of principled, ethical people can’t swim against the tide, except perhaps some Amish and Mennonites. So we’ve decided to take a good neighbor when we have one, be a good neighbor when we can, but not to hold our breath waiting for camelot.
We hope for our mission of a new agrarianism to be embraced by the wider community, but our happiness in this place isn’t contingent on that happening. And I guess that even if I did happen to live in an enclave of others that really understood what we’re about, it wouldn’t feel real. Though I guess the entire state of Vermont is an enclave of sorts.December 14, 2007 at 12:16 am #44631Carl RussellModerator
Community in the most basic terms would be a group who interacts directly, or indirectly, around a site possessing resources that they depend on. In this way we obviously can see the whole world as a community. But in ideal human terms it probably needs to be measured in much smaller terms. Anyway, there is no requirement that the individuals of group interact for the purposeful benefit of others. It is the community that takes on a life of its own, as an organism, that benefits from the interactions of individuals.
Like Eric I have lived and worked for years in a community that hasn’t been that understanding of my choices. However, on many other levels I have found relationships that I benefited from, and found ways that I could contribute. What is lacking is an understanding by the group of the common resources that we need. Our global economy has dispersed the sources of goods now so that neighbors on the same street can have dinners that come from different sides of the Earth. This is the where our interactions as community members falls apart. We don’t have to care about the same patch of dirt, therefore we don’t care about our neighbors. This will change, and we will be ready. CarlDecember 14, 2007 at 1:04 am #44641AnonymousInactive
Americans are jackasses for many reasons. People love to loath the illegal immigrant from Mexico. I watched 28 of them co-exist this past summer in a five bedroom farmhouse. There was never a cross word or even a “look” between them. On the other hand, you put three of us gringos together for five minutes and there was an argument. No it has nothing to do with legals, illegals, mexicans. You have no culture no matter how hard you try to believe you do. How’s you’re favorite sport of baseball going for you? You people have no idea of community but you sure feel cool riding behind your horses.December 14, 2007 at 1:32 am #44639
Costa Ricans are very good at maintaining community. They don’t even have an Army anymore. They always work very hard at not offending anyone. Before they speak, they think “how will this be taken and what will people think of me afterward?”
In the USA, we tend to value “saying what we are thinking” but at times, what we think isn’t worth saying. :rolleyes:
Realize that though the Mexicans can live together – Gringos (I am one) can work together. There is a saying in Costa Rica, “In business, there are no friends.” I believe it. I find business less cooperative here, but people more friendly. Sometimes I wonder if they are just softening me up for the kill. :pDecember 14, 2007 at 2:06 pm #44635goodcompanionParticipant
@John 95 wrote:
You have no culture no matter how hard you try to believe you do. How’s you’re favorite sport of baseball going for you? You people have no idea of community but you sure feel cool riding behind your horses.
Whoa, pretty sarcastic there. What exactly are you hoping to get out of this discussion, John?
I agree with Carl that as stewards of land we are also stewards of community, should the community ever choose to value us for that. And I’d also argue that we do have a culture, it’s just a very jumbled and confused culture. Given a crisis, I think my community could pull together. If I didn’t believe this, I couldn’t live here.
I’ve lived inside communities similar to the migrant workers described, in north africa. Much of that bond, that spirit of cooperation, is created by adversity. The less adversity, the more individualism. And of course individualism reigns king here in the U.S.A. That’s not all bad–were this a conformist culture we mightn’t have the freedom to farm or log as we chose. But there are obviously huge downsides as we move into an era of increasing resource scarcity.
But not too far back in history we were able to pull through a crisis together–doing so was a major part of my grandparents’ experience of community, during the depression. So I at least hope and believe that the wherewithal to do this isn’t lost forever.December 14, 2007 at 2:53 pm #44642AnonymousInactive
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I got some pent up anger and I sometimes spew at the wrong time or place. It’s just that I hear all these wonderful idylic thoughts about community and small farm sustainability, etc. I learned the hard way that for a small farm to be sustainable, the first thing it has to do is make money. The only way to make money is to sell something. All the latest gurus are making their money not by farming but by selling their “new” ideas in books, magazines, etc.. I personally believe that many of these “experts” are responsible for more people getting out of small farming. I’ve heard and read too many stories, including my own, how much of the “new” ideas just don’t work.
I’m all for a good community. My sarcastic comments got interesting replies which gives this community a chance to reflect a little deeper, I hope.December 14, 2007 at 3:52 pm #44640
John, please don’t take this sarcastic but you a very obvious statement here – the first thing a small farm (or anything) has to do is make money. Was that a surprise? Even before the Industrial Revolution there was always a need for some cash crops to pay for some services, or at the very least, barter.
Selling knowledge is a cash crop of sorts – and if the farm is research, so much the better. Can someone actually make money with Draft Animals? Sure, depends on the kind of work and where they are.
Community is a key concept. The better the community, the more likely you can make it work. For example, let’s say you are a neighbor and have oxen (which is the case in our area) – I have some logs to extract from a place there is no way to get the tractor down into – So, I pay you to extract the logs for me. You get to charge me a premium price because without you, it is impossible.
You might be able to lay down a road with draft animals but I assume a neighbor with a bulldozer can do it a little faster. :rolleyes: But, the investment of a bulldozer is pretty steep – nice if you only need it occassionally.
Community lets us use efficiently our resources. I just purchased 4 books on draft animal power – now I could have spent years learning this the hard way, but why not pay someone else who took the time to write it? This is community.
But you do touch on an important truth. Don’t romantize too much draft animal power – there is a time and place unless you are a gentleman farmer of course.December 15, 2007 at 2:13 am #44643AnonymousInactive
@CRTreeDude 106 wrote:
“John, please don’t take this sarcastic but you a very obvious statement here – the first thing a small farm (or anything) has to do is make money. Was that a surprise?”
Yes, it was. “If you build it they will come.” Not true. The only ones interested in what we are doing are well educated professionals. The downfall with that is they are too busy with their careers to be of any real help.
“Community is a key concept. The better the community, the more likely you can make it work. For example, let’s say you are a neighbor and have oxen (which is the case in our area) – I have some logs to extract from a place there is no way to get the tractor down into – So, I pay you to extract the logs for me. You get to charge me a premium price because without you, it is impossible.”
That’s partially correct. To be financially viable, you better be on the right side of town or have enough help that allows you to go there three to four times a week.
“You might be able to lay down a road with draft animals but I assume a neighbor with a bulldozer can do it a little faster. :rolleyes: But, the investment of a bulldozer is pretty steep – nice if you only need it occassionally.”
If your using mixed power (I’m not talking about armageddon and possible things to come), horses should only be used when they can do a task in the same time as your tractor.
“Community lets us use efficiently our resources. I just purchased 4 books on draft animal power – now I could have spent years learning this the hard way, but why not pay someone else who took the time to write it? This is community.”
That’s why I’m here. Writing and selling books is commercialism! I just hope you got the right four books or like too many others, you will have “spent years learning this the hard way.”
“But you do touch on an important truth. Don’t romantize too much draft animal power – there is a time and place unless you are a gentleman farmer of course.”
All my truths are important. It’s up to you to read the real meanings.December 15, 2007 at 6:36 am #44630Gabe AyersKeymaster
A community in this modern world can be many things.
The geographical community or our rural countryside is suffering the lose of much culture, but it is not all gone.
This forum is a “community of interest”. We all have a common interest.
There will probably be some networking of geographical communities that result from this medium.
The community of interest will be supported in a unique way though this technology, although it is annoying to learn how to get around a site that is new, particularly for the computer challenged like myself.
There are many contributions yet to come to this forum.
John, just chill with the negative stuff.
You were/are a grumpy old man on the other site and are just about unbearable here. Just because you are unable to do certain things, with horses, working animals, forestry, farming or whatever doesn’t mean someone else can’t do those things.
I work horses for a living every day. The more I work my horses the more money I make. I make a modest income and improve my surroundings with every move. Restorative Forestry makes the most money of the long term and that is what my culture is about.
These people have culture by simply wanting to learn about something they don’t already know. That is anthropological culture. It is the most important way humans have always learned.
I am thankful for this forum but must admit that there is only so much time to give anything extra when you work many hours a day and certainly don’t get paid for writing on a chat board. We are all promoting something even if it is our own personal education or learning process.
Hopefully that is why people will read this material, to learn and teach and share.
Diversity is the strength of nature and we should be a diverse group to be strong. So let’s try to just keep it positive, like many mothers say – if you can’t say something good, say nothing at all.
Sure, tell about mistakes, but don’t be such a buzz kill for new people investigating new dreams and culture.
Jason RutledgeDecember 15, 2007 at 1:18 pm #44636SallyParticipant
@goodcompanion 91 wrote:
But the joint ventures, the communes and cooperative farms, always ended badly, with financial messes, legal proceedings and/or hurt feelings. Yes, we need community to be more than lines on a map, our survival in fact depends on it, but I feel that we as americans are so very bad at cooperation and interdependence. The whole culture is aligned towards individualism;
I share this experience largely. And I am questioning the reasons why that is so, that so many ventures that come together, with what seem to be really great intentions and vision, end badly.
Here are some of the things I’ve thought about: We lack all the things a long established culture offers: story, myth, meaningful ritual, profound processes for resolving conflict, indentification with a specific place and our mutual dependence upon that place (as Carl talks about in his post).
I’m not sure how to create those things with a group of people but I wonder if many groups have put the draft animal before the plow in how they form. I know that the group I worked with probably did that. We came together with intentions and found a piece of land but we did not share a clear story or myth about what brought us there or would keep us there together. We developed some processes that were effective for a time but with new members who had not shared even the short history of the community those processes were diluted and the benefits forgotten.
I wonder if the story of “the Republic of Vermont” might be helpful in giving some glue to communities there?
And some can see the coming times of fossil fuel depletion and climate chaos actually requiring that we find our way to new ways of being, and/or reclaim older ways of being. I certainly see that. Perhaps there will be a story or myth or meaning come from that which will pull people together in ways that are now very challenging.
I appreciate the thoughtfulness here.December 15, 2007 at 3:16 pm #44633RodParticipant
My observation on enduring communities is that the more shared values they hold in common the stronger bonds of the community. The Amish come to mind. They hold the same religeous values, a strict code of behavior and a Bible based value system and they live in close proxomity to each other. Years ago we looked at buying an Amish farm in NY state. The owners were moving because thier were only two famlies in the area and they sensed the need to be in close proximinity to other Amish to continue to exist.
It’s very hard to live a life style contrary to the excepted norm without support from like minded folks. Wheather we like to admit it or not “we are all like sheep” and naturally inclined to follow the group ways.December 15, 2007 at 5:33 pm #44632Carl RussellModerator
@Rod 141 wrote:
…… naturally inclined to follow the group ways.
It may seem too simple, but we lack community because we don’t practice it. For several thousand years we have been working within artificial power structures that insulate us from the difficulties of life as part of the natural world. In all the supposed positive ways that this has affected us, one negative is that we have had less and less need, or even occasion to act as natural humans. We have found success and surplus which has given us opportunity for individual expression, but this has also cultivated individualism. We replaced the need for the group with the groups need for the individual, which gave rise to a long list of expectations for membership, which includes the competition to out-perform others to demonstrate worth.
There are so many parts of our modern culture that interfere with natural expression of males, females, fathers, mothers, families, children, leaders, healers, ….. that we no longer practice what it means to be human. And Group we are. Now we act like a group of individuals. Is that a group?
I believe that when the veils are eroded and the bare naked truth of our vulnerability on this planet are clear, people naturally respond the our most basic need, our most basic skill, Community. This is happening all around us. It is happening right here on this page. Some people will have to wait until the artificial power structures collapse, others have been gaining increasing levels of insight for many years.
But as Rod says, it is difficult when your choices are not shared by those around you. But as we discuss this issue, it gains strength. As we practice what we can where we can, it gains strength. Trying to create it is not the same as practicing it, and therefore that may be one reason why intentional community building can be so difficult. And, if our desire for community is to facilitate our pursuit of a particular lifestyle, isn’t that also individualistic?
I think we have to be patient, trust our human abilities, reach out, stand out, and show that we have faith that human community really does exist (albeit in the shadows), by our participation in it. Wow I am so pleased with where this Discussion Forum is going in such a short time! Carl
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