Transition Centre

Community Ecosystem

COMMUNITY ECOSYSTEM

Introduction

There are three essential things we must know about the idea of community.


  1. A community extends to the limits of the values and ideas a group of people share.
  2. The idea of community has eroded over the last century to the point few in the US people have a real experience of it.
  3. Where a group of people live together, regardless of their sense of true community, they live in an ecosystem, a collective behavior which forms spontaneously.


Developing our comprehensive sustainability master plan (link), our research of other leading communities indicated that some of them seems to have an established “culture” of sustainability.  Enough people were doing sustainable practices to make a noticeable impact on the community.

We know that it takes about 30 for a subculture to emerge in a community or society.  We observed that these communities were pioneers in environment and sustainability, mostly from the 1970s.  It was clear that this change in the habits of people was forming into a self-sustaining pattern.  It was not that the majority of the people living in these communities practice sustainability but that they had reached a critical point where these practices were taken for granted.

Social and cultural change is a well-studied phenomenon; the literature is there and courses are offered in most colleges and universities.  Each example of cultural change is, however, a unique occurrence.  Given sustainability culture is, and could only be, new, our we recognition of a pattern was an exciting step.

The purpose of our comprehensive plan was to promote greater community engagement in sustainability.  It takes purposeful enterprise for a culture to begin forming.  Of greater importance, it takes a sustained and progressive engagement of the community over a period of decades. 

Culture is an emergent property; that is not readily predictable.  But an understanding of the process (and the resultant plan) allows it to be guided, allows best practices to be identified and allows resources to be mobilized.  To the degree a community understands it is accomplishing something of general benefit, it can take pride in itself.  This is true about its culture of business, its built environment, parks and recreation, art, libraries and museums, and even sports teams.

In the three years since our comprehensive plan was completed we have closely observed the course of events in our community and believe there is very clear evidence of that critical mass being met.  We have set as an objective a better understanding of the process of this emerging culture and how that can be incorporated into our community ecosystem map and employed to enhance the planning process.


The Idea of Community


The most pressing crisis facing our society is not energy or economy or even environment but the loss of community.  We have lost our sense of human association, indeed of our very humanity.  For the first time in human history the very experience of community has been lost for most.  We have not only lost it, we have forgotten it.  It will have to be rediscovered.  The underlying mission of Transition Centre is to promote the founding of new and self-sufficient communities.   (Read More)


Community Ecosystem Mapping

A community is an ecosystem just as a forest or lake is an ecosystem.  The ecosystem model is increasingly being adapted by business and non-governmental organizations as a more realistic and effective vision for how they are organized internally and how they fit into their community and the larger framework of economy and society. 

The challenges they face in developing initiatives are: 


  • Connection,
  • Communication and
  • Collaboration. 


 Community Ecosystem Mapping™ is our model for achieving these three “C’s.”  A resource list is the foundation.  However, an ecosystem network consists of nodes, connections and the things that move along those connections.  It consists of inputs, throughputs and outputs:  which can be products or wastes.

 Transition Centre has designed a model for online network, adapting to member organizations, called Alliance Networking.  This application is under development.

 An effective network is crucial for the success of any organization – government, business or nonprofit --

 This page is under development.  Please see the concept framework for Community Ecosystem Mapping at this link.