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And, yes, I DO take it personally: Comunidades y Viviendas, Monologue 3
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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Comunidades y Viviendas, Monologue 3

Bottom-Up Power
Creating a New Era through Community

Our world is facing a critical challenge. For too many years, the levers of global society have been controlled by small groups of people who are only interested in money and power and have little to no concern for the common good of the rest of humanity. People everywhere, whether or not they were consciously aware of it, were forced to surrender their power, their livelihoods and, in many cases, their lives, to satisfy the voracious and unending needs of their masters. Slowly but surely, this is changing. People are beginning to wake up to this reality and, bit by bit, are starting to re-claim their god-given right to take charge of their own lives, to live and work with dignity and to enjoy the health and prosperity they so richly deserve. As this happens, the depth of our challenge becomes ever more apparent.

When power shifts, as it must, from the few at the top to the grassroots, people need to learn how to exercise it, not only for their benefit but to achieve the common good of all. To do this means building healthy, effective, sustainable systems, structures and communities, communities which are strong enough to insure that power and resources remain where they belong – in the hands of the people.

The fundamental building block of society since the dawn of human history has been the community. One of the subtle strategies employed by those seeking money and power has been to turn our focus away from community to the family. It is much easier to isolate and control individual families than it is strong communities. Because the family is indeed an important and fundamental element of society, this strategy has been wildly successful, and, as a result, we have seen communities across the globe virtually erased as a functional element of the societal landscape. Long commutes to work and many hours per week on the job, minimal vacations and recuperative time, bedroom communities only used for sleeping, “cocooning,” an emphasis on materialism and the money it takes to continually acquire the newest goods, geographic mobility and the subsequent demise of the extended family, and a deliberate disenfranchisement accompanied by an increasing inability to effect positive change in the larger system, all have served to drive us apart and restrict any natural tendency we might have to banding together in healthy communities. Now that we are on the brink of an unprecedented shift of power back to the hands of the people, we need to learn how to build communities.

What I propose to do is to put power into people’s hands and to teach them how to use it to create the strong communities that will allow us to take charge of our own lives. Doing this requires, first and foremost, enlightened and skilled leadership, but, equally important, it requires an understanding on the part of all community members about how community must function as an integrated system. It is impossible to construct and maintain an effective, healthy, sustainable community system without a baseline set of knowledge and skills about how systems function, how to design them and how to make them work over time. More about how to go about doing that in subsequent posts.


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