Community Building within Communitas
31 May, 2012
Following the initiative of Dr. Bob Roberts, the founder of Project Return in Louisiana, in offering community building experience in a Louisiana prison, we have offered to date four community building workshops in local CSC institutions. Dr. Bob Roberts served as a facilitator in the first of these at Cowansville Institution in 2006. This life-changing experience would be the first of others held at Cowansville, at the Federal Training Centre in Laval and in the community with a mix of ex-inmates, inmates and volunteers. All have been remarkable occasions. Subsequently we have offered several Community Building Workshops in the city.
This process originated in the early 1980s, begun by Scott Peck, who began organizing these workshops, with the sole aim of creating “community” with those present, by providing a safe place in which to share our own humanity, and implies the total acceptance of one’s neighbour, despite differences.
Stages in the Process
1This is characterized by politeness, avoidance of overt disagreement, denying individual differences, beliefs that a “community” already exists, and indifference/resistance to the goal of building a community.
2In this stage, open conflict can be quite apparent with attempts to “heal and convert” others into adopting a particular way of thinking.
3This stage is the bridge to community. Emptiness refers to the difficult task of letting go of one’s barriers to community.
4Once the group has completed the task of emptiness, it enters community. It is during this stage that the dynamics of the group change. Characteristics such as the expression of and respect for individual differences, shared leadership, spontaneity, quietness, joy, commitment to embracing painful realities and the ability to begin thinking about the health of the group as a whole can emerge.