organic community

November 10, 2007

Two years ago, I sat in a session by Joe Myers at an Off the Map event. He shared some about his upcoming book Organic Community, which, at the time, was due to be released within 4-6 months. That turned into 18 months and the book was finally released this past spring. I ordered a copy, but it sat with the 60 or so other unread books on my bookshelf…up until a few weeks ago. Having now read it, I can say it has been worth the wait.

The primary thesis that Joe advocates is that genuine community does not from master planning, but organic order. Master planning falls short in that it tends to have every thing figured out in advance, and then tries to program everything out so that the desired results come about. Organic order leads to organic community that is “not a product, not an end result. Organic community — belonging — is a process, a conversation, a jazz piece, an elegant dance. It is not the product of community that we are looking for. It is the process of belonging that we long for.” (pg 125) Through a series of chapters, each related to a different concept, Joe contrasts how master planning vs. organic order might look.

In one sense, it is a very easy read. The writing style is easy to follow and the concepts are explained pretty well. On the other hand, it is a book that should be given some time to digest. Though it could pretty easily be read in a few short hours, it shouldn’t be. Ideally, this book should be read with others, whether in an established community, or in order to dream about one. Though everything Joes says might not be adapted or agreed with, it can certainly stimulate some worthwhile discussion.

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