Me and some friends “villaging” back in 1996 or so at a session at The Irish Heather in Vancouver. That’s me blissed out on the bottom right of this photo. We are playing traditional Irish tunes together.
Barbara Holmes today in a post at the Centre for Action and Contemplation:
It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a village to survive. For many of us, villages are a thing of the past. We no longer draw our water from the village well or share the chores of barn raising, sowing, and harvesting. We can get … almost everything that we need online. Yet even though our societies are connected by technology, the rule of law, and a global economy, our relationships are deeply rooted in the memory of local spaces.
Villages are organizational spaces that hold our collective beginnings. They’re spaces that we can return to, if only through memory, when we are in need of welcoming and familiar places. What is a village but a local group of folks who share experiences, values, and mutual support in common? I’m using the word “village” to invoke similar spiritual and tribal commitments and obligations.… When there is a crisis, it takes a village to survive.
In each generation, we are tested. Will we love our neighbors as ourselves, or will we measure our responsibilities to one another in accordance with whomever we deem to be in or out of our social circles? And what of those unexpected moments of crisis, those critical events that place an entire village at risk? How do we survive together? How do we resist together? How do we respond to unspeakable brutality and the collective oppression of our neighbors?
Our lifelong efforts to map our uniqueness do not defeat our collective connections. Although I’m an individual with a name, family history, and embodiment as an African American woman, I am also inextricably connected to several villages that reflect my social, cultural, national, spiritual, and generational identifications. These connections require that I respond and resist when any village is under assault.…— Barbara Holmes. https://cac.org/daily-meditations/a-collective-response/
I like this idea that connection alone doesn’t equal community. Connection alone is not enough to create spaces where we make meaning of our lives or generate meaning and life with and for others. Instead, there is a need to enliven the space of connection with purpose, shared identity, and meaning.
I am working on a book on dialogic containers, and it really comes down to the principle that what is “contained” in these kinds of contexts is “meaning.” I once heard Jennifer Garvey-Berger use the term “life-giving contexts” in a webinar, and it really struck me that THIS is what we are trying to do when we are working with “containers” in dialogue and participatory leadership work. It is not enough to hand each other a business card or place an organization’s pamphlet in the centre of a circle. That does not create a dialogic container; it does not create a life-giving context for action.
Villages, as Barbara Holmes points out, DO. And a village is not merely a collection of uninhabited houses. It is an emergent identity of a place of human life. You may live in an apartment building, but do you live in a village? What is the difference between your building and a village? What can you do to make it more village?
The answer to that question is the essence of dialogic organizational and community development. The answer to that question leads you to meaning-making together.