Living in a community demands that we reach out to people but in my experience that reaching out works both ways and provides an element of security.
When mentioning a life in a community it can be as intense as living as a member of the Amish Community in which the rules are set by each community such as no electricity, no cars, mobile phones etc., to living in a particular place or joining an interest group online of like-minded people.
In a time of economic downturn the equation between money and time shifts and my priorities in times of economic downturn shift too to spending more time investing in myself through reading, learning new skills and connecting with other people.
The 5 benefits of living in a community:
A sense of belonging
Many people feel isolated from the world by the fact they have no friends or relatives in their community. This can lead to loneliness and eventually depression. A community spirit can instil a sense of belonging in these individuals, they are no longer alone, and they lead healthier, happier lives.
Living in a community protects the individual from the harshness of having to do everything (the “every man for himself” mentality). It can help a person who falls on hard times if they are in a community to feel supported, rather than living a corporate lifestyle where a person is only as good as their latest contribution. Community living also means that most of the people know each other. A small town environment like that often means less crime and also less need for surveillance. Surveillance is a consequence of living amongst strangers.
The sharing of resources
Sharing resources can greatly reduce the cost of living. Many of the luxuries that people enjoy are not used 24/7, or even if they are used frequently, they can often be shared. The quality of items that can be afforded goes up while the cost goes down. You can live cheaper and better, and the only cost is being more social.
Resources can be shared through the LETS system and FREECYCLE groups.
The transition towns initiative are creating communities that prepare themselves for sustainability after peak oil.
Cooperation and Competition
It is natural for individuals to cooperate with each other. We are a tribal species. In fact, cooperation on an individual level is very beneficial, because generally each person is interested in and skilled at different tasks than their peers. As a result close knit groups of individuals whose skills and personalities complement each other can be particularly healthy, happy, and successful.
Employment and fulfillment
One of the greatest benefits of living in a community setting is that it gives us the freedom to care for our lives, our wealth, and often both at the same time. There is no reason for the community to resent individuals for participating in a way that does not directly benefit the bottom line. We can work together as business partners who share equally in the burden of maintaining the community economically.
The needs of a community are numerous, and the avenues of occupations that could benefit a community are likewise numerous. Using local skills and expertise can benefit the individual member economically but also forges networks of professional relationships who have a sense of place and local solutions.There are many diverse ways in which an individual can contribute. By working within a community each individuals skills and abilities can be applied in a unique way, and no person need feel like a cog.
And community living is not just something for the countryside, there are areas in large cities that create hubs of community, where a local cafe becomes a meeting place, a place to relax and cultivate the relationships that bind us together as human beings.