I am at times surprised by the definitions people have of community. In the community development world people will often say, "are you defining community as a place or by association, such as the disability community or a learning community?" This leads me to believe that there are only two kinds of community. At other times, when visiting with people, they will use the term, “ my community," and I am equally as surprised because it leads me to believe that they only have one community.
I want to describe community and the use of community in different contexts to show that community can mean many things to a person at different times and stages of their life. It is my belief that we all have multiple communities in our lives and an important part of recognizing this is to give a language to describe them. I have spent most of life reading about community and when I find a definition that I just love, it is not long before I find another one and again it provides me with insights on my journey. Community for me is situational and changes at different stages of my life.
To research the term community can feel overwhelming at times, as there as so many different writers and definitions to choose from. I have found five broad categories that capture for me different understandings of community. The five are:
1. community as place
2. spiritual community
3. intentional community
4.the science of community
5. community as identity
But, how about you. What is your definition of community?