Category:Types of Community
While every community is unique, there are broad ways we can categorize some communities that share important characteristics. Hopefully these definitions can help in our understanding of community, as long as we remember that even within categories communities will vary widely.
Though there is no precise definition, cohousing communities have a variety of typically shared characteristics. The most widely quoted list of 6 Characteristics can be found on the Coho/US website. Cohousing can appear similar to some mainstream housing developments, but incorporates ideals of participation, cooperation, sharing, and knowing one's neighbors. Most cohousing communities have considerable resident input into the design process as it unfolds, and resident management of the community after it is built. The architectural design generally clusters the housing, with cars de-emphasized and pedestrian/play areas enhanced, to promote frequent and spontaneous human contact. Cohousing communities have a common house, a building/space with a large kitchen and dining room, as well as a range of other facilities desired by the residents. This is intended to act as an extension of the individual private homes, allowing them to be smaller than their non-community counterparts. Most operate by consensus. Work is shared, though work systems vary widely. See Cohousing for more info.
The concept of ecovillage is a vision, an ideal. It combines the principles of ecology (understanding the complex effects of human activities on the environment around us, integration of multiple natural and human systems, sustainability into the indefinite future) and the idea of village (human scaled, with all features needed to meet the basic physical and social needs of its residents). In the real world, an ecovillage is a process toward this general vision. Ecovillages make a commitment to explore various physical and social technologies, and implement those that can move them closer to their vision of this ideal. People from many countries and from many cultures are taking up this challenge. They start from where they are, with widely differing levels of technology and other resources available to them. Each ecovillage asks "How can we use what is available to us to move closer to the ecovillage ideal? What are our strengths that we can share with other ecovillage projects? What do we need that others can help us with?" Each ecovillage finds different answers to these questions, and is at a different point on the path toward its vision. See Ecovillage for more info.
There are 285 kibbutzim (communal settlements) in Israel today. Though most are not religiously focused, a few are. The vast majority are affiliated with the Kibbutz Movement, a pluralistic umbrella organization. While all are more or less politically left wing, kibbutzim have diverged widely from the high level of similarity and centralized economies that characterized the movement just a generation ago. In response to intense economic, political, and generational pressures, most groups have become less communal and allow much more individual choice around finances and job selection. It remains to be seen whether this trend toward diversification and privatization will ultimately produce a stronger, more resilient movement. See Kibbutzim for more info.
In this category, the variety is quite large. Communities range from long-standing Catholic monasteries and nunneries to the newest New Age groups. Some have a very unified practice, with all in the community sharing a single practice while others have members following a variety of paths. The main thing they all have in common is that they tend to use community as a tool to further their spiritual agenda, rather than as an end in itself. Being gathered into a community allows participants to separate from the temptations and diversions of the outside world, and provides more intense reinforcement for living the focused life of the religious aspirant. We can view spiritual community as a cauldron that creates an intense, focused heat not easily found elsewhere. Many spiritual leaders have recommended or even required that their followers live in a community of believers, as a way to deepen their spiritual life and promote the internal changes that move them closer to the ideal. If you choose to enter the life of a religious community, it is important that you accept the religious practice of the group, without thinking that it will be perfect once you get them to change one or several aspects you don't agree with. See Religious Spiritual Communities for more info.
Some communities explicitly adopt a list of agreements that promote the equality of their members. One group of such communities that is very active in the US Communities Movement is the Federation of Egalitarian Communities (FEC). Each member community agrees to four principal values: egalitarianism, income sharing, cooperation, and non-violence. Each member has equal access to the decision-making process, and to the resources of the community. FEC communities range in size from family size groups to village size, with their decision-making and resource-allocation systems generally becoming more structured and complex as their size increases. Because of the large overlap of shared values, the FEC communities have been able to create and maintain a variety of inter-community connections and projects, including a work exchange program, joint businesses, and a major medical insurance fund. See Egalitarian Communities for more info.
Student housing co-ops are associated with a number of colleges and universities, providing a low-cost alternative to dorms, apartments, fraternities, and sororities. Students often choose co-ops initially for the lower cost, and only discover the interpersonal benefits after they move in. For many young people, student co-ops provide them with their first taste of intentional community. Houses range in size from small houses with a handful of residents, to large buildings that house over a hundred co-opers. Some co-ops restrict members to students while others draw members from the broader community. Student co-ops generally subscribe to the principles of the Co-op Movement, known as the Rochdale principles, written down by a group of weavers in Rochdale, England in 1844. In brief, these are: 1) voluntary and open membership; 2) democratic member control; 3) member economic participation; 4) autonomy and independence; 5) cooperation among cooperatives; and 6) concern for community. The North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO) is the organizational voice of the student Co-op Movement. It provides education, training, networking, and development assistance to existing and new student housing, dining, and business co-ops. See Student Co-ops for more info.
Shared households are homes which are shared by multiple, unrelated adults. They have a wide variety of styles, decision-making methods, etc. Some consider themselves to be communities, while others are more casual about their self-identity. See Shared Household for more info.
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Articles in category "Types of Community"There are 13 articles in this category.