Why houses alone don’t make a community

Houses

Community is more than houses and trees: it’s about shared values and pride

Interesting programme on the radio as i was driving today: there is some discussion at the moment about the demolition of thirty year old housing estates. Many of these places have become dysfunctional: litter strew no-go areas, poorly maintained and fit only for demolition, leading to the fragmentation of whatever community exists. The chap talking was expressing the viewpoint that this needn’t be the case, but that efforts were being put into the wrong areas.

We focus on new building, cool technologies, green and energy efficient materials, but with little thought to how we nurture community itself. His argument was that simply looking after the environment better was one half of the story, managing the community better was the other. In other words: invest in the environment and in the community, but that you can’t solve the problem just by building new houses.

I have some sympathy with this: we see all the time in online spaces that the technology is incidental to experience. We can put in place the best socially collaborative technology, but end up with no community if we don’t nurture and support it effectively. Similarly, we can see community forging links in the most basic and outdated sites, where common interests drive it.

Technology is good, but it’s half the story. Understanding the everyday reality of the learner and ensuring that community spaces are moderated and managed correctly is the other: including setting rules and holding people to account (both participants and contributors).

Community is a delicate thing, but it’s more than infrastructure.

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About julianstodd

A learning and development professional specialising in e-learning and learning technology.
This entry was posted in Collaboration, Community and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Why houses alone don’t make a community

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