Keeping societies together
Communal spirit feeds innovative action
The relationship between the individual and society is based on a feeling of community. It keeps societies together. Communal spirit, communities and communal life are necessary prerequisites of human existence and action.
Traditionally, people have regarded their family, relatives, village and tribe as their community. Communal spirit can thus be linked to a place or theme. However, urbanisation has increased anonymity and many city-dwellers have lost their sense of community. Modern tribes are created around common hobbies, ways of thinking or activities in the virtual communities of the internet.
In order to promote sustainability in these communities, we must first understand how they function. As part of a community, we humans function in various roles, all of which affect our decision-making and attitude toward things.
Open decision-making culture
Effective communal decision-making is the greatest challenge faced by communities today. This is particularly true of decisions that have a multitude of effects on environmental, social, cultural and economic capital. One obstacle to effective decision-making is what is known as NIMBY thinking (Not In My Back Yard). Therefore, participation in decision-making should be made easier. This would improve individuals’ opportunities for participation and the operating environment of companies.
Communal decision-making also entails different perspectives. For local residents to see the benefit for them, open interaction is needed right from the preparation stage. If information is available and new things are discussed, they will be accepted more easily.
Models for sharing benefits
Benefit-sharing models can make new things easier to accept. For this reason, it is worthwhile discussing and developing such models. For example, it would be fair to local residents that the community would benefit somehow from a wind farm being constructed in the vicinity. Various models exist for sharing benefits:
- Special issues of stock to locals and the municipality;
- Channelling economic benefits to the region through means such as taxation;
- The village stipend model: the wind farm owner donates an annual sum of money to the local community.
More opportunities for participation
Sitra has implemented several projects that seek to increase communal spirit and improve opportunities for participation. Such projects include New village in an urban environment, in which new ways to develop services for children and young people were studied; and Brickstarter, for designing a technological platform for promoting ideas related to the sustainable development of communities. Everyday technological solutions and operating methods, such as social media and mobile applications, help create new kinds of connections between people, government and companies.