So much of human history is about communities that mainstream society has forgotten or pushed aside. Groups of people bound together by common location, experience, or values find their way of life under threat or in decline through no decision of their own.
Natural and spontaneous market forces leave them behind. Governments, knowingly or unknowingly, systematically ignore their needs and priorities. All too often, dominant elements of society pointedly exclude them. Commonly, all these factors play a role in subverting the overall health of a community.
Communities respond to this exclusion in different ways. Unsurprisingly, many turn to violence as an expression of their frustration, as in the burning of black neighbourhoods in the U.S.A. in the 1960s or in Chiapas, Mexico in the 1990s. Some purposively isolate themselves from an inhospitable mainstream altogether, like the Doukhabors in the Canadian west. Tragically, many others suffer a quiet desperation that slowly eats away at their self-respect and hope for a better life. And who knows how many have simply withered away?
Yet, there is another, more hopeful, history of people organizing and innovating to defend the ties that bind them together and survive, even prosper. Despite the odds, these communities have striven to retain or regain a say in their future. They literally have refused to say die.
Much of the Canadian experience is about the loss or outright destruction of community. Here Mark Cabaj describes the other side of the ledger: the many and varied strategies, institutions, and tools that people in Canada have created over the years to preserve community against an array of forces. The principles and insights that underlie modern-day CED and social economy enterprises are part of a tradition that stretches back beyond the Great Depression, beyond the Industrial Revolution, to Canada's original inhabitants.
This is an article from volume 15, no. 1 of Making Waves magazine.
Living with The Industrial Revolution
Welfare State & "Top-Down" Planning
Emergence of Community Economic Development
"Not So Quiet" Revolutions
A Simple & Powerful Dream