Last week I facilitated a meeting in a tiny hamlet 75 kms from here (Lethbridge). It was with regards to creating two “event days” in the community that would give residents a chance to trade items, sell crafts, listen to some music and eat locally prepared food. I started the meeting by asking each attendee what their number one reason was for being there. No less than 75% responded with a similar answer; to meet people, to be part of a gathering, to join with others in the village, etc…
In all the years I’ve attended and lead meetings of various groups I have consistently come across this. The theme of just “doing things together” is the biggest draw for most of us. And it’s no surprise that as more members of our society experience isolation from each other, the more this need comes to the foreground.
I think we can agree that people are social animals. We’ve gathered in tribes, clans and villages forever. The importance of community is intrinsically tied to our survival instincts. The desire to connect and the pleasure of simply working side-by-side can be seen all around us in many ways. Check any local event in which volunteers are asked to step forward. When those people come up to do the work needed there is little fuss about how important their respective tasks are, no quibbling over how much harder one works than another, no concern about hours spent to do the task at hand. What is of utmost importance is the chance to work with others in a situation that is “more like fun, less like work.”
And now the scientific evidence is mounting in favour of this idea. We are discovering that our brains are hard-wired for social engagement. From a baby’s earliest recognition of smiling faces to the neurological chemistry when witnessing someone experiencing stage fright to the amount of chemicals in our brains secreted when doing work that is cooperative rather than competitive. This research even moves into the animal kingdom and how cooperation is a superior model of survival. Check this fascinating vid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYOPcHRO3tc (The video goes far beyond the theme of this blog after the 5 minute mark. It goes on to provide a wonderful alternate view to competition as we know it.)
Today we see that “creative competition” has resulted in huge swathes of humanity being left behind. Sadly, most residents on this planet are locked out from receiving the benefits of the collective efforts of humankind. This is about to change.
In the next few years we will witness the movement away from top down hierarchical systems that have been responsible for this iniquity. On a more direct and local level we will see changes in land use, building technologies and work environments to create a world that is attendant to our individual needs and is more focused on solutions than on regulations. Truly these are interesting times.
Gilles Leclair is the founder of GeoStudios. Somewhat eccentric, fairly environmentalist, politically aware, he believes the world should have more off-grid communities... many more.