The core value of the quest for Martin Luther King’s Beloved Community was agape, love. Dr. King distinguished between three kinds of love: eros, “a sort of aesthetic or romantic love”; philia, “affection between friends” and agape, which he described as “understanding, redeeming goodwill for all,” an “overflowing love which is purely spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless and creative”…”the love of God operating in the human heart.” He said that “Agape does not begin by discriminating between worthy and unworthy people…It begins by loving others for their sakes” and “makes no distinction between a friend and enemy; it is directed toward both…Agape is love seeking to preserve and create community.”
One of the key focus for SEYN is community. But how do we or you understand the term community? Why this term is neglected in formal and informal education or at least there are huge variations between different countries? What makes people enjoying coming together or makes them be afraid to do so in an effective and meaningful way?
Based on Merriam-Webster dictionary, community/ies are a unified body of individuals as in:
– People with common interests living in a particular area itself or the area itself
– An interacting population of various kinds of individuals in a common location
– A group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together in a larger society
– A group linked with a common policy
– A body of persons or nation having a common history or common social, economic and political interest
– A body of persons of common and especially professional interests scattered through a larger society
– Society at large
– Joint ownership or participation, common character and interest, as well as social activity
With the rapid expansion of technology, affordable communication, dissemination of ideas (good and bad ones), access to new tools and the rise of social media, it seems like we do have it all. Online platforms nowadays allow collaboration and interaction beyond physical or even linguistic limitations using forms of communication like video, audio, text, accessible almost for everyone and everywhere. Digital nomads are a proof of changing times, where people work remotely, as freelancers or employees and employers, requiring just a convenient space with internet access. There are many shared and many unknown stories of people, couples or families staying on the move while working as digital nomads, choosing a different kind of life.
“The future is still to come and we will shape it as a community”
The majority of people though, still stay in the cities, “disconnected” by living in and with a meaningful and creative community, with a promised “security” provided for services like water, food, shelter, energy, health and culture. This security though comes always with a price, questionable quality and access for everyone, transforming the basic elements for a decent life into marketable commodities and services. In this way, the individual and communal power is stripped from our hands, making the dependency on systems we contribute only financially through taxation, an important factor to keep our heads down, losing connection with reality, stripping away the power of community building and interactions or sharing knowledge, resources, skills and more in equal, honest and inclusive ways.
Being raised in such environments, few generations already, the majority of people are completely detached from nature, resilience, resource based life, interaction, cooperation and meaningful skill building. This shows a great impact of dependency, not from our community and its members, but by an invisible “father figure” which can be called state, government, private company etc.
Modern educational systems in Europe and beyond, are promoting the history and the status quo, as the current and only reality. In this way, they enhance obedience, control and respect to the laws, without showing alternatives or a more global vision. Nation states are still playing an important role, while economies for the few and (very) rich are globalised imposing neoliberal approach and privatization of public and common goods necessary for life as the new “normality”.
However, there is hope. Another world, beyond borders, parallel to the one described is all around us, inviting to join and be part of it. Intentional new communities, new farmers in urban and non-urban environments, alternative currencies, open source sharing, non formal education, DoItYourself and DoItTogether, collectives and cooperatives, solidarity movements, social centers and digital nomads are just few examples of this interconnected and not that small community of communities.
If you had the chance to participate in any workshop, skill sharing and non formal education event, assembly or open discussion, especially in the cities but not only, you have felt the need for physical contact and interaction, from your side and also from all participants. You also felt this sweet emotion of doing things together with people you didn’t know before, coupled with a feeling of bitterness when this thing finishes. Many times, two basic questions crossed your mind, “how it would be if my life was like this every day?” and “why this is not my everyday life”? And for most of people afterwards, life goes back to normality however with a little seed of change planted inside their hearts and minds, or this becomes such a life changing experience and leading to the first steps into the “unknown”. Internal reflexes to cope with these tough questions will kick in immediately, finding potential problems in this alternative future, as if your current life is not full of challenges and unknown future. And in that respect in fully understandable since it is the primal fear of the unknown.
Many times, two basic questions crossed your mind , “how it would be if my life was like this every day?” and “why this is not my everyday life”?
What is very important though, is that by participating in such events, you take a glimpse of what is possible, the treasure you and your community holds inside, the complexity and diverse skills and knowledge existing in your neighborhood or extended community, the vision and passion. And also you feel you are not alone, you can always learn and interact, you are and can be free but it comes with a “small” requirement. Full responsibility, focus, actions and perseverance.
SEYN can show you an alternative regarding community energy, sustainability and tools to support these ideas and is only one piece of this “new paradigm” or better this radiant mosaic of alternatives. It is up to you though to take responsibility, take the risk even if you fail and take the first step and the second and the third and so on.
We believe that the future is still to come and we will shape it as a community. Will you join in shaping this future? Your choice comes with 100% responsibility.
If you want to learn more about communities check the links below.
Ecovillages – Displays communities with the words ‘ecovillage’ or ‘eco-village’ in their listing. Ecovillages are generally communities with a strong ecological focus.
Cohousing – Displays communities with the words ‘cohousing’ or ‘co-housing’ in their listing which also indicated that they use the cohousing model. Cohousing communities generally incorporate both private homes and shared common facilities and support neighborly connections.
Communes – Displays communities which indicated that they are 100% income sharing.
Co-ops – Displays communities with the words ‘co-op’ or ‘coop’ in their listing. Co-ops are cooperative, generally expense sharing, often urban, shared housing communities. Many of those listed are focused on college students.
and also check this impressive global map of ecovillages.
Thanks to Yorgos Thodorakis and UrbanFlatInTransition for the inspiration of this article and the following links.
Alexandros Filippidis, is the president and coordinator of Sustainable Energy Youth Network. Born and raised in Greece, studied in Denmark and currently living in Netherlands, is a highly motivated professional, energized by promoting social change through actions and opportunities to learn, grow and contribute. Bringing a solid background on renewable energy and cooperatives, in both technical and policy level with focus and eye for detail. Described as fast, concrete, motivating thinker and speaker; highly social with great networking skills, recognized by his deep understanding and solution oriented approach; entrepreneurial and team oriented spirit, with a good sense of humor and can-do- attitude towards work and life. In his free time, he grows vegetables wherever he finds soil, builds with natural materials and spreads seeds of change.