the first recorded use of the word community is approximately 635 years old (Source: Wolfram|Alpha) but I think the concept is as old as humanity. sadly I think our ability to maintain a community is falling.
Sometimes we think our place of work offers us this sense of community and depending on your position in the organization you could certainly have some good representation from each of these four factors. Sadly most of us are replaceable in our worplaces so I am not certain any of the factors from our workplace is entirely true as any of them are influenced by our use to the organization. If you "climb the corporate ladder" #4 seems to be reduced by #2 is increased.
McMillan and Chavis identify four elements of "sense of community": 1) membership, 2) influence, 3) integration and fulfillment of needs, and 4) shared emotional connection. (Source: Wikipedia)
I think church groups try to offer a balance of the elements and certainly the community clubs such as the lions club and rotary seem to be specifically trying to address the elements in their existance.
I am perplexed by this whole community component in my life and what role model I want to be for my children. In reading a quote today “The price of being a sheep is boredom. The price of being a wolf is loneliness. Choose one or the other with great care.” - by Hugh Mcleod, I got to thinking if I was really as unique as I convince myself or if I am also sheepwalking but with a particular flavour of it that makes me think I am not. I am curious but as I have grown older I find my willingness to explore to satisfy that curiosity has been reduced mostly to acedemix pursuits. I am still curious about the sciences and would love to experiment with physics and mechanical problems but I am very unlikely to gather materials and try something just to satisfy my curiosity. In fact, I think I have convinced my self that experimentation that involves costs (spending money) is no longer allowed unless there is some expected result of efficiency or the saving money as the result. Do I want my children to think that exploring their curiosity of the world cannot be in experimentation and invention? I think our instinct is to be curious and in fact I think this is one of the reasons why sexual exploration has increased, it is meeting our need to be in a cycle of curiosity and experimentation. I think I would rather have my kids experiment with live voltage than sexual stuff as they grow older.
Getting back to community, I think part of my reduced exploration is my lack of involvement in a community and how those connections have changed. It would seem that we might be willing to ask help of a friend for moving to a new house or some laborious task but we would be less likely to invite them over to test our theory about some new gadget or idea in our workshops. Instead we invite our pals over for entertainment sharing. Much of our community today seems to be entirely about entertainment and then somewhat about intellectual discussions, which all to often lack dept and could be considered entertainment as well.
I end off this post knowing that I have not carried my thought through completely but leaving you with a question. If you could spend less time doing some of the things you do now (like work) what communities would you choose to be a part of?