A Smaller Circle: The Search for Community

I was commissioned by London publisher Random Century to write A Smaller Circle: The search for community in 1991. The commissioning editor, Tessa Strickland, left and cofounded Barefoot Books. I moved to the United States with my two young children and was unable to finish the book on schedule, which led to its being canceled because Tessa was no longer there to shepherd it. She sent me the woodcut she’d commissioned for the cover. When I saw it I was rather glad the whole thing had been canceled because that bucolic vision wasn’t really the story I had to tell. (Not to mention all those cows! Even then I knew about cows producing methane gas that contributed to climate change.) The research led to the creation of the Encyclopedia of Communityto my work on third places, and our search for community continues to be a central interest of mine.

Only Connect! Thoughts from India and Japan

Two articles this week in the international press, one about India and the other about Japan, brought home to me our essential need for connection and community, and the terrible things that result from the breakdown of sustaining community bonds. "Community" so often sounds esoteric, an intangible "good" that doesn't mean much in real life. In fact, it has many real-life benefits, including better health and longer life as well as happiness. Its absence means all kinds of social and personal ills.

A Smaller Circle

I have wanted to use this story about the ducks in Boulder creek for years, and doing so in a UK magazine called Resurgence/Ecologist really brought things full circle. I was living in Boulder when I was asked to write the only other thing I

What zombies can teach us about community

I don't know anything about zombies, but I promise that I am not using the word just to increase my blog's search rankings. It's my kids who like zombies, and love forcing me to try things I am sure I will not like

Sustainability requires a new sense of community

I’m writing an article about “Community” for the final volume of my company’s Encyclopedia of Sustainability. The volume is called The Future of Sustainability so I have to explain the future of community and how that relates to sustainability. I’m summing up years of reading and pondering and fretting over how these two things relate, and was remembering my brief words about community at the end of Eco Living, published in 2000, several years before I became the creator and editor of the Encyclopedia of Community (Sage 2003). Here the section at the end of Eco Living (London: Piatkus Books) [...]

Vibrant boosterism

Thomas Frank is the author of the bestseller What's the Matter with Kansas? and coeditor of The Baffler. I just came across "Dead End on Shakin

The sounds of music on The Hill in Great Barrington

Neighborly harmony is a thing devotedly to be wished for. It is not easy to achieve, and I've read plenty in the course of my research on community about battles over hedges (a huge issue in the UK), loud music, and lawn and garden housekeeping. It's easy to avoid neighbors today. I know someone who has lived in in a crowded suburb in the Silicon Valley for decades without speaking to a neighbor or even knowing their names. In many places, people simply drive in and out of the driveway, and install high fences. But in my neighborhood, we walk. [...]

karen christensen's corona typewriter on t s eliot's desk

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