I’d like to include a pointer to a recent article I posted on the essential elements of community:
Why is such a thing needed? Everyone has a different definition of “community”. Most of these definitions are not all that useful when it comes to evaluating whether or not a project enhances community or not.
My sense of it is this: There are essential elements to community much like there are basic types of food. For any given type of food, such as meat, you can choose between chicken, beef, pork, tofu, beans, and so on. But you need to have all the types in your diet, and you need fat and starch to make a good sauce. It’s how you combine the elements that matters, as well as how you prepare and spice them.
I like this approach because I also think of community as a source of nutrition. Are you getting all the social nutrition you need? Perhaps your communities are not as complete as they should be. And that is where community development comes in.
I would very much appreciate your comments on this piece. I doubt I hit everything, so let me know what I missed. Thank you!