Thu 18 Aug 2016 9:58AM

Communities - what keeps them alive and dynamic?

IC Isabella Cawthorn Public Seen by 405

This is a conversation forked from another thread's discussion about the merits of meeting physically vs online vs by VC etc.

It's for connecting and sharing ideas on what makes communities form, adapt, continue, morph, and die.


Isabella Cawthorn Thu 18 Aug 2016 10:04AM

FYI, i'm looking at communities of practice at the moment http://wenger-trayner.com/introduction-to-communities-of-practice/ as a vehicle to help people in local government do better at tricky stuff that's often only 0.2 of their job but can be 150% of their effort (i.e. it takes way more effort than they have!)


Dmitry Sokolov Thu 18 Aug 2016 10:47AM

Isabella, how would you do it?
Where do you see the problem with efficient collaboration?
I am studying collective intelligence for a few years and working on collective memory where information of particular interest can be found / discovered in seconds.
Is your problem "findability", or "synchronisation of intents", or something else?


Dmitry Sokolov Thu 18 Aug 2016 10:52AM

Isabella, I have to apologise beforehand for possible silence. That's no way an ignorance but focusing on offline activities.


Dmitry Sokolov Thu 18 Aug 2016 10:57AM

My communication is based on our collective memory where all our information is collected from our activities in different platforms as well as in real life. Community of Practice topic is being developed here: http://confocal-manawatu.pbworks.com/w/page/79755578/Community%20of%20Practice
The other relevant nodes are (inter)connected into the knowledge network and can be found in this page.
I hope you can find that helpful.


Isabella Cawthorn Fri 19 Aug 2016 12:41AM

Kia ora!

Thanks, I will have a read.

We know that a community of practice is the best tool for a really difficult challenge, and we also know that the collection of people involved lacks many of the characteristics that communities of practice need (including a sense of all being "practitioners"). The client (who'd be the sponsor( is also new to communities of practice as a tool, so it'll be an experiment in more ways than one.

Just to keep everyone's expectations of me nice and low, this is one strand of a much bigger project and I won't be able to contribute much usefully on this thread as I'm pretty busy this week. But I'm collecting details and can get in touch with people in the near future!



Camia Young Thu 18 Aug 2016 8:29PM

I love this question, it is one Im thinking on as well. Im currently reading Peter Block's 'Community, the Structure of Belonging'. I think I will need to read it a few times to digest it fully, but there are a few things that really ring true for me, for instance we need to hold freedom and accountability in balance. The phrase that really struck with me is 'what if leadership is about confronting people with their freedom.' And I believe creating social structures that do this is the art of community building, and where i am currently investing a bit of time/energy. Id love to talk more in person at the conference on this.


Cam Findlay Fri 19 Aug 2016 4:44AM

:heart: communities of practice...


Greg Cassel Sat 20 Aug 2016 12:05AM

Thanks for making a new topic, @isabella0cawthorn !

It's a big topic, and perhaps not fully oriented to this OS//OS group unless we focus on "open communities" or something such. Maybe that's a good idea?

BTW maybe you should ask to join the Commons Transition Loomio group. I think you'd be well-suited! I'm not an admin but could give you a reference if necessary.

I probably won't engage much here, because I'm not currently oriented towards discussing complex social ideas and theories. However, I can try to lay out some general ideas and issues I perceive.

At the risk of seeming absurdly reductive: I believe that communities are all about resources (physical and/or informational) which are shared. Intentional communities (including virtual/online ones) are about resources which are intentionally shared, co-created and/or stewarded together.

Because of their interest in shared resources, intentional communities support verbally identifiable beliefs, goals, processes and/or events. However, as a systems theorist, I believe that no matter how a community's participants describe their interests, those interests must be supported by processes which have identifiable inputs, functions and outputs. Most community inputs and outputs don't need to be identified, but it's possible and IMO occasionally crucial.

My point here is that for communities to survive and thrive, they need for all of their required inputs (of resources) to be sustainable.

Physical resources (including usable energy) are inherently scarce. Sustainable processes require the reliable replenishment of scarce resources, but not continually, because scarce resources can be effectively stored/reserved (to highly variable degrees.) Because of this, I believe that the physical sustainability of communities depends simply on planning and budgeting reserves which are sufficient to endure all reasonably predictable reductions and disruptions of important physical inputs.

Informational resources-- including stuff such as mission statements, guidelines, rules, software, reports, and data-- are fundamentally different. They do require physical storage and sharing techniques which are (quite variably) subject to decay or disruption; however, ideas are virtual, non-perishable, and easily replicated.

For instance, informational resources can be shared instead of transferred-- and of course, they should be resiliently backed up.

I'm devoted to a radical expansion (and improved networking) of public informational resources. However, any community which creates, adapts or stewards informational resources -- for instance, the open source Loomio software-- must use sustainable processes to do so. That usually requires some intentional inputs of physical resources and/or currencies. It's also inevitably an exercise in dialogue, and IMO an ongoing test of the value of the informational resources in question to other, often broader, communities. That value depends on the ways in which a community interfaces and interacts with other communities, which may overlap innumerably.

Processes which support, co-create and maintain physical and/or informational resources may be mediated by monetary currencies. Those currencies are usually intentionally scarce and centrally controlled, but alternatives (such as mutual credit systems) exist.

Obviously there's a lot of stuff to talk about here. Uggh, well hopefully I've at least shown why I don't do this often! :)