“God comes to us in the midst of human need, and the most pressing needs of our time demand community in response. How can I participate in a fairer distribution of resources unless I live in a community, which makes it possible to consume less? How can I learn accountability unless I live in a community where my acts and their consequences are visible to all? How can I learn to share power unless I live in a community where hierarchy is unnatural? How can I take the risks which right action demands, unless I belong to a community which gives support? How can I learn the sanctity of each life unless I live in a community where we can be persons not roles to one another?

(Parker Palmer, 1977; as quoted in Practicing Peace: A Devotional Walk Through The Quaker Tradition)

I was in Lansing last spring waiting for a workshop on structural inequality to begin. Several people were running late and so those of us that were there sat in the circle waiting. I turned to the lady next to me and said ‘hi’ and we began chatting. I had just had a conversation on facebook with another friend that is working in Kenya. That morning she had invited me to come and join her in her work. I was very pleased and excited about that and it had been on my mind for the last couple of hours. As I continued talking with the lady in the circle next to me, I was pleasantly and curiously surprised that she was from Kenya and had been living here for 10 years. I am very intrigued with different cultures and especially about how “community” looks in different countries. So I asked her what she sees as the differences in cultures between America and Kenya. She said, “Oh”… and then sat there shaking her head, trying to find the words to answer that question. Finally, she turned to me and said in her strong and beautiful Kenyan accent something that sounded to me like, “da wawd aye”. I was on the edge of my seat by that time, listening with all my heart. With a puzzled look, I asked her to repeat it. As I listened more intently, I heard it. “The word ‘I’”. THAT is the difference. In America, everything is about “I”, “me”, and “mine”. In Kenya, nothing is about that, it is about “we”, “us”, and “ours”. Suddenly, she went silent again, running out of words to continue to express this way of life. Then she looked at me and said, “You HAVE to visit. That is the only way you will understand… Well, you don’t HAVE to, but if you don’t, you’ll miss it!”

I have long been intrigue by community and frustrated with the lack of community that exists in my life and work...

Continue here: http://ronirvine.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/creating-habits-of-commun...

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Comment by Ron Irvine on May 25, 2014 at 12:49am

Thanks for the comment!

So are you saying that the UK doesn't struggle with any of this anymore?

We do have many people that direct their own services and have lives that are self determined and fully integrated in their communities. But there are so many that have move out of state run institutions into smaller settings that are still mini-institutions. When the systems runs programs such as these, giving control to the people tends to undermine the bottom line. So what the people are given an illusion of control as the system continues to maintain economies of scale and efficiencies that work for the system but not so much for the person.

Comment by Debs on May 24, 2014 at 6:50pm
What a great story.not one the uk tells though-we are getting much better at it..as a social care worker supporting adults in the community'directly' i did see first hand that the community does care-will care,we need to stop making decisions and hand the power to the people who live in it..what a great resorce of talented people who have something to offer..No age,race,or gender specified-just all walks of life with a gift or unique skill set,knowledge that will benefit others living their! Soloutions are there,i will always think outside the box rather than tick it whene it comes to sociaty,people and care.Decision makers will infuriate me until the end of time.United we are though:)) D

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