Community in America

  • September 13, 2010 · 7:00 PM
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A sense of community is: "a feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that members' needs will be met through their commitment to be together."

Let's explore the nature of community in America.

What are the factors that contribute to a strong feeling of community? Common experiences, shared sacrifice, day-to-day interactions, a shared historical narrative, social equality, living together, a morality that stresses social duties, a common religion or value system?

What sort of communities do we belong to? How deep are our ties to neighborhood, city, state, country, family, ethnic group, community/religious groups, workplace, and to what extent do these loyalties conflict with or reinforce each other? How have changes in our national historical narrative and racial relations affected our sense of unity over the last 100 years? Should we try to promote local or international solidarity rather than national unity?

How do our economic, political, and social institutions affect the depth of community feeling in the country?
Does our culture of self-reliance decrease our sense that the rest of society will care for us in bad times?
Does political divisiveness harm our sense of community?
Is it our suburban car lifestyles that lead us to only infrequently see our neighbors or patronize local businesses?
Has the movement in universities to promote ethnic identity and demythologize nationalistic narratives helped or harmed us?
Do we trust each other more or less than in the past?

Is our sense of community weak? How does that affect us, what could be the causes, and how can we fix it?

Many people claim that modern America lacks a deep sense of community, that we live lives of isolation in a selfish culture, only brought together in brief moments, like 9-11. The political scientist Robert Putnam claims that membership in voluntary organizations, a sign of the health of civil society, has been decreasing significantly over the last few decades.

What solutions could there be?
Intentional communities...a military draft or a youth volunteer corps...neighborhood centers for social gatherings......???

Or is this sense of dislocation and isolation a necessary cost of great personal autonomy, and preferable to the alternative of tighter community ties which might bring us nosy neighbors, and interactions with people we don't like?

Let's explore the topic and please come share experiences of different kinds of communities you've encountered in foreign lands and earlier decades in our own country.

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  • A former member
    A former member

    Excellent topic and good discussion. Perhaps this group, and similar groups, can form the basis of a post-traditional community in our area.

    September 14, 2010

  • A former member
    A former member

    Great topic! It was so huge we barely got past the first two questions Wally asked!

    September 14, 2010

  • A former member
    A former member

    This was my first Bohemian Meetup and I really enjoyed the discussion on Community. I agree with the suggestion that this is a topic worth re-addressing at a future meetup!

    September 14, 2010

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sounds good.

    August 30, 2010

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