It takes a village, not a national bureaucracy

Some people come to Meadowcreek to escape the city and discover community.  Others come to Meadowcreek for community and discover the wild.

Mississippi Farmer Group 8-17-2014Meadowcreek is both community and wilderness.  Unfortunately, those who recognize the value of direct experience of nature have sometimes forgotten the need for community.  We all have need for both.

We need to be in the wild and we need to be in a small, supportive community.

If you want evidence for the need for wilderness, its easy to find in books such as: Last Child in the Woods,  How to Raise a Wild ChildI Love Dirt!, Ecoliteracy.  

Likewise the need for community is well-researched.  See: How Many Friends Does One Person Need?, Bowling Alone, Better Together: Restoring Community, and many more.  The United States has undergone an unprecedented collapse in civic, social, and community life (social capital) since the 1960s.  How ironic and sad that the rise of social movements extolling community has been followed by the exact opposite!

The bottom line is that we need community and we need wilderness.  We are happiest when we live with small groups of people with similar beliefs surrounded by nature.

The logical next step after you have a best selling book seems to be to start a political movement.  So, the need for the experience and appreciation of nature has resulted in a movement and even legislation called No Child Left Inside.  

The need to experience and appreciate community has also been co-opted.  One Presidential campaign and rallying cry was even launched based on the need for community:  It Takes a Village.

Its all too easy to stay indoors talking and writing about how important it is to be outdoors.  Or listen to lectures and study books about the importance of community. We spend lots of time indoors planning government programs to get people outdoors or away from our local community lobbying for programs to support community.

People who discover these truths, and want to practice instead of preach, often head to places like Meadowcreek.

Where they have to be mildly reproved is when they generalize too far.  Bernie Sanders is a favorite of those who think community is an important value.  Socialism and even communism seem to be a logical extension of belief in strong local communities, taking care of each other, and the Golden Rule.

The problem is that national approaches to building community inevitably inhibit strong local communities.  Community must arise locally.  Imposing national solutions, by definition, is not local and can only inhibit if not destroy local community.  A group of people must see themselves as a community and be dedicated to the resilience of their community.

Strong local communities have always resisted big government.  Just ask the Amish. They fled governments in Europe which were bound and determined to wipe them out.  They have thrived in the US only because national government has left them alone.

No matter how well-intentioned, government programs to institute community always fail. Bernie Sanders went on honeymoon to Soviet Union in 1988.  Like many of his generation, he saw the failings of the US.  He realized greed, self-interest and unbridled capitalism will destroy any society.

The failures of the Marx, Lenin and Mao Tse-tung show that national approaches to creating community will not work. Community can only be built one village, one neighborhood at a time.

What works at the village or neighborhood level does not transfer the higher levels of government.  Often those who espouse national approaches find their community at a national level.  With today’s social media, they form community with those who share their ideas but without the daily contact required to create local community.  All communities are more resilient when they are local.

Small committed local groups get things done.  To paraphrase Margaret Mead, lasting change comes only from such groups.  Resilient change requires strong local community.

That’s what we are building at Meadowcreek: community.  We’ll do our part to help others across the region and the country to do the same.  But we have learned from our own experience of the last 30 years.  When we neglect creating local community, everything else falls apart.

Come to our monthly pot luck the first Monday of every month to see our local community.   For some ideas about how to create community, read our free book if you don’t live close enough to Fox, Arkansas to drop by.

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We’ve summarized much of the research on the need for community in the first chapter of our book.  Get a free copy here.

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