Category Archives: communities

Quick sketch of one of my communities

One of the activities Michelle asked us to do was to make a quick diagram of a community we belong to. I chose a group of people who make art together on Saturdays. One of them, Fred, has been making big public art with me for more than twenty years. Another, Fab, has been making big public art with me and Fred for more than ten years. One came along as a friend of Fred’s when they became a couple a few years ago. Another joined a few months ago with her daughter. So I started labeling the strength of the ties in terms of years of shared experience.

This is a close-up of a group who are tightly knit — we all know each other. What this sketch does not show is how loosely bounded we are — we each have connections to other groups and networks. Every Saturday, someone from one of our networks shows up, so there is a cloud of more ephemeral relationships that is also not pictured.



If you include both the stronger and the weaker-tie relationships each of us have to people in other than those in our group, then it begins to look more like a small-world network. Because of a relatively small portion of random distant ties outside the immediate group, it becomes possible to get from any person in the network to any other person in a small number of hops. In the case of the human population of the earth, the number of hops is six:


So I live in a world that includes sparsely knit and loosely bound networks and densely knit and tightly bound groups and communities.

Whole Earth Catalog – marketing a lifestyle, not goods

I found this passage in the Turner reading pretty interesting:

“When Brand began publishing a quarterly supplement to the Catalog in
1969 he also developed a correspondence section, in which readers wrote to
one another. In both the Catalog and the supplement, Brand marketed not
so much goods as a way of looking at how life ought to be lived.” (p. 8 of the pdf)

Does anyone know if something like this exists today? I hate to sound cynical, but I feel the pressure to sell goods is too high for any catalog to emphasize the community over consumers. The first thing that came to mind for me was Reddit, particularly the subreddits that encourage others to live a certain way (e.g. GetMotivated, Fitness, or PersonalFitness). I’m sure there are corners of the internet that operate in a similar way, but I can’t think of anything in the mainstream that puts people ahead of the products (bold statement haha but I’ll revise as I research).