Community Studies, Part One - Welcome to the course.
I'm an academic who lived for eight years in anintentional community called the Findhorn BayCommunity (seen here on its 30th birthday inNovember 1992), on the banks of the Moray Firth innortheast Scotland. Previously, I have lived in largecities, small rural villages and a university town.When I was growing up in Newcastle upon Tyne inthe 1950s and 60s, I had a feeling of belonging to acommunity. The grown ups used to get together ineach other's homes, the church, the pub and in thecommunity centre. We kids went to the local school, roamed around the streets andnearby fields. People's doors were usually open - we knew and were known by lots ofpeople. Later, when I moved to London, there was a big difference. People mixed less,locked up their homes more and travelled further, usually by car, for work or leisure. Thatsense of community I had known as a youngster had all but gone.One of the reasons I have put this course together is to provide a resource for peoplewho want to build a feeling of community, wherever you are. I was also inspired byseveral visits to Hawai'i and meeting with native Hawaiians, including the profound andknowledgeable cultural historian, Charles Ka'upu. It seemed to me that, despite all ouradvances in medecine, science, technology, engineering and so on, we in westernsociety are poor in some important ways that peoples such as the native Hawaiians, arerich. These areas include caring for each other, sustaining friendship, support and socialcohesion, tapping into the strength of extended families, and developing sustainablecommunities. I hope that this course, in some small way, can contribute to a rebalancingof our society through a better understanding of the forces that hold communitiestogether or push them apart.
Who is it for?
The sort of people I had in mind as I wrote this were social science students, particularlythose involved with sociology, social anthropology and social psychology. However, Ithink that anyone with an interest in communities - understanding them, creating,developing and maintaining them - will find something useful here. Although this is asocial science course and Community Studies is an academic discipline, it is also aboutthe fabric of our lives. It is about the way we raise children, how we connect with eachother, how we handle disagreement and conflict. It is about how much of ourselves weshare with others, how we make friends and who with, who we consider to be family. It isalso about how leaders emerge, what we consider to be crimes and how we handlethose who transgress. Finally, it is about how we relate to the environment, to other formsof life, and about how buildings structure and shape our interactions with each other andwith the environment.