Monday, 1 June 2009

Community and Network by Scott

What is a community and what is a network? Community is those who can be defined by a closed boundary and having a more intimate relationship and share a common interest (e.g. public facilities, neighbourhood.etc). However, the increasing urbanisation has make the definition of community more complicated than before as the relationship in a neighbourhood became weaker and is not as intimate as it was. Network on the other hand can't be defined by a boundary and their relationship is more purposive (business network, political affiliation, hobby groups.etc). A network can be a connection of people from different places or countries which are working on a common goal.

Either we realize it or not, we are all connected in this world. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, "All of life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied to a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly will affects other indirectly". So, why do network matters? It is important to bring people together to achieve a goal and brings on to leadership. From networking, people can change or find the tipping points which lead to change either to a better or worst environment. The context of network includes change which is nonlinear, nature, society and network positions.

Networks can either hurt us or empower us. For example, the relationship among the world economic which has caused the financial crisis when one company faced bankruptcy which leads to a domino effects to the other companies. But, it also can empower us if we know how to use it. Barrack Obama was once expected to lose to Hillary Clinton as she have a solid foundation of finance backing her campaign compared to Obama. She is also related to Bill Clinton, he most succesfull President of the United States. However, Obama wins the election as studies shows that he won from the power of network. He knows a lot of people in the grass-roots which helps in his campaign to influence their relatives and friends which later on influenced their's. Networks can also define us. We can be defined by what causes we joined (e.g. political parties, alumni, NGOs).

So, where do we find network? Network can be find from the system, ideas, events and people. And these elements can connect to each other. In a system, if one elements of the system failed, it will bring on domino effect o the other elements which bring to the failure of the system. Ideas can also connect people. People can be connected based on their ideas either the same idea or different but in the same interest which can bring to healthy discussions. It also can be connected from the events that had happened, for example a social party which open the opportunity for people to meet other peoples. So, events does influence networks.

Since, networking have so many benefits, thus network weaving is important. It is important to diversify specialisation thus open up our perspectives and come out with better solutions. With varies background, it can encourage creativiy in the network and ensure that he netwrok is sustainable. It is also helpful for social capital or resiliance and useful as a tool for spreading the word. So, how can we weave he networks or what holds us together? As discuss earlier, it may be the ideas that bring us together. It may also be the common outcome that we want to achieve. Identities is one of the element that are usually associated with networks. But, the most important thing that hold us together is for survival. So, for us to survive the environmental impacts these days, it is important for us to build on our networks to spread the words as quickly and effective as possible.

Source: Macleod, Scott. (2009) Community and Network. United States Institute on the Environment, 26th May 2009.

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