It's Simple Right? Good Neighbourhood Building Relies on Good Relationship Building

I wrote the following for a small publication about neighbourhood building...

Good neighbourhood building relies on good relationship building. As simple - even simplistic - as that might sound, its amazing how many community building initiatives rely on “programs to fix what is broken” rather than growing knowledge amongst residents of what capacity already exists in their neighbourhood, mining the wisdom of neighbours about what is possible and growing our “trust of each other” as neighbours.

The Christian notion of Holy Trinity (though corrupted over time to be seen as a personified god-hierarchy) originally captured the dream of this type of relational neighbourhood. The earliest exponents of the concept labelled it “perichoresis” which is nothing to do with hierarchy at all. In fact the word means “circle dance.” Involved in the dance were the source of all possibilities (“father”, in the language of the day), the transmitter of what is possible (“spirit” in traditional language) and the one who knows the part he has to play in using that possibility (“son” in the old language). In this circle dance, the three dancers wind tightly together into an amazing unity of relationship and interconnection. Knowledge of and trust in what is possible comes about in the dance.

We can only build neighbourhoods that mimic this idea if we keep the flow of information and possibilities flowing. This means that we get people interacting and talking. Activities that ask people basic questions about themselves and get them sharing that with each other are prevalent in this type of neighbourhood building. What seem like “silly little activities” – such as asking people to share certain “favourite experiences” - come to be recognised as the way we live into the deepest possibilities of our lives. Suddenly I know something about my next door neighbour that deepens our connectedness and makes something new possible.

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