A Debate on Community

Submitted by Derek Alton on June 25, 2013 - 10:41am
A conversation amoung educators in Oakville

The following is an interaction between Derek Alton and Ernie Kuechmeister during a community conversation in Oakville.


 You can surround a homeless person with more homeless people and you get a bigger group of homeless people.  How is building community going to bring change when ultimately the power is in the hands of a few?


There are two answers to that question. 

First, is that people live and act at the community level.  For most people community, change is the only kind of change that is realistic for them to take on.  It is also often times the kind of change that has the greatest effect on a person's life, their health, happiness, security and financial wellbeing.

Second, social change is not about big people doing big things, it is about everyday people making the small actions and choices in their day to day life that moves there world.  When thousands of people do this, then you get a larger shift.

Ultimately, governments are reactive more often then they are proactive.  They follow the trends of the people.  If there is large scale pressure from communities to take more action on homelessness, then governments will follow.  With enough pressure from the citizenry this change can happen even in the face of powerful and influential opposition.


You can put a diversity of people together and get a great group of stories but how are you expecting to find common themes when people are so different and live in different worlds? 


Yes, we are each unique and different, based on our upbringing, our social and cultural backgrounds.  Ultimately, though, we are all human and we share this planet together.  Because of this we have a lot in common.  Whether you are a wealthy businessman or a poor beggar on the street there are common needs, desires and aspirations that we all share.  We all want to be healthy and happy.  We do not want to be alone, but rather part of a community where we are accepted for being ourselves.  We want to also have space to be unique and special in our own right.  We want to feel like we are giving back to others in some way; that our existence is meaningful.

So far in this campaign we have had over 100 conversations, each with a different segment of the population.  There has been a great diversity of stories that have been shared.  But there have also been some common themes.  A desire for greater connection and a frustration that we do not have the time to make it happen.  There has also been an interesting pattern of dichotomies. 

This diversity of thoughts, experiences and opinions also rests within each of us and we walk through life trying to balance them.

Diversity is important.  It is important to hear other peoples stories that are different then our own, it opens our mind to a sea of new possibilities.


Interesting- anything more?

Thanks for providing this reflection.

I am curious to hear more of the thoughts and relfections from the group that was present for this conversation- any other things that can be shared?