The erosion of real-world community is a compelling topic. As our culture has evolved lifestyles away from the community interactions that were driven by churches, stay-at-home parents, etc., we've failed to come up with replacement connections that are pervasive, cross-generational, cross-cultural, and real-world. New community networks were discussed at this weekend’s WineCamp.
As individuals, we move between destination locations such as school, home, and work. Though we typically have community sustained within each of our destinations, the idea of a contextual community has been lost. A byproduct of car culture is the loss of context, the connection with the people and places en route. The difference is highly visible when you compare pedestrian communities such as Manhattan with auto communities such as San Jose.
There's a new collective living model being fostered in Berkeley. (Where else?) This model differs from the NYC co-op, the San Francisco TIC, or the Miami condo. Here, the community is run on a consensus model, much like the US Senate or a local jury. Oddly enough, liability and insurance are the major issues in the collective. Responsibility gets handled in a variety of ways: In a group house, there is one person on the lease and they have the insurrance. On the other hand, if a single owner is renting out residential space at scale, he or she would need a higher level of business insurance. Legally, you have less control over the space when you are not an occupant yourself.
Moving from home to work, there is also a growing need for co-work communities coming from small businesses and independent workers. These folks feel the need for increased social interaction, and are willing to pay for a space, but don't want to pay an arm and a leg. In an inexpensive incarnation, a $1000 workspace is shared by 10 people for $100/month each, with a "desk reservation" system that ensures people get their niche when they need it.
A collective work model being developed by Innovation Commons serves as a template for other folks that want to create more ambitious co-worker communities. The main physical area is a café-like commons, with satellite workspaces. Collaboration happens here, not just space sharing. A core group invests in the space coming together, but then make it free or inexpensive for others to attend. Referrals are often involved, and new workspace members have to establish themselves as a trustworthy drop-in before getting a key.
In all of these real-world communities, leadership definitions are challenging. Communities run by a single leader are often the simplest model, but there weren't many popular examples of it shared at WineCamp.
At BarCamp, leaders that sustain the spirit of the event tend to emerge in each of its local communities. There is a decentralized hierarchy within the BarCamp network, and each local community tends to develop its own leader channel. This not only is part of enabling local character, but is also creating local champions. Since It's human nature to want a leader, the communities often look to their champions as informal leaders. The online equivalent is a group wiki, with one passionate contributor that assumes an informal editorial role.
Leaving this conversation, someone made the great comment that
co-spaces are "ready to leave survival mode and instead pursue a shared
vision." How a positive collaboration comes together has yet to be
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