VII Community Check-list

The following check-list outlines ten elements of community initiatives. These questions can be addressed with specific regard to the University of Waterloo or within any region. The examples within the square brackets represent one of the many ways in which the specific element of community can be implemented and recognized. This check-list has been developed from the areas of research within this project, there are several more means by which community can be established or strengthened. These questions and examples represent ideas and actions; as the systems diagram for community indicates, there is a dualism between the two.


  1. Is there diversity ?
    [Existence of a collective interest group with representation from all faculties, clubs and interests groups.]

  2. Does the community celebrate diversity?
    [Community activities have events with a multicultural emphasis ie. Native Awareness Week, International Women's Day.]

  3. Is there active participation in activities that foster holism and deep connections to the earth?
    [Establishment of a Council of All Beings whose aim is to understand and appreciate all life.]

  4. Is there equitable access to health care, education, food, shelter, personal, and community expression, and cultural enrichment?
    [Facilities and social programs are geared to provide necessities for all ie. food banks.]

  5. Is the local economy of the bioregion dependent on local (internal) exchanges as opposed to distant (external) exchanges?
    [Ontario grown tomatoes are purchased rather than Californian tomatoes.]

  6. Are internal and external practices non-exploitive and sustainable?
    [Local crops are diverse and not a monoculture. External products such as coffee are bought through local companies that act responsibly towards field workers employed abroad.]

  7. Is the local education program influenced by regional decision making and does it include topics relevant to the region?
    [Topics in the curriculum include regional plant and vertebrate identification.]

  8. Do members of the community consider it a safe place, where they are accepted for who they are, instead of trying to be "converted" or ignored.
    [People find support within the community ie. Big Brother/Big Sister and Welcome Committees.]

  9. Are decisions made from a grassroots level?
    [Students are involved in faculty hiring.]

  10. Is there interdependence between existing communities?
    [UW Walksafe and WLU Foot Patrol work together.]

VIII Recommendations for Future Research

  1. Develop purchasing requirements with practices that foster and support the regional community.

  2. Conduct a feasibility study of co-operative purchasing between UW, WLU, Guelph.

  3. Determine a method for measuring levels of community. May include measures such as mapping space devoted to community activity.

  4. Conduct a comparison analysis between various communities on campus and between campuses.

  5. Examine sustainability and community as separate subjects of study and determine the common elements of the two.

  6. Co-ordinate a "United UW"- a collective interest group with representation from all faculties, clubs and interests groups. Specific directions and goals of such a group be determined by the student undertaking the project. Possible forum for such a group may be: co-ordination of social events, information exchanges, discussion group, implementation of recommendation #7.

  7. Establish UW as a Healthy Community based on the Healthy Communities Criteria following each process of development.

  8. Determine a means to integrate alternative education programs into the UW current/ traditional framework spanning all faculties. This integration would include hands on approaches to education, both oral and written examination practicums, workshop training, field work, conference lecturing, guest lecturing (international and national) and student teaching.

IX Conclusion

Community is a word of many varied connotations. It is a word overused yet it is often a concept that is overlooked. The theme of community has been woven throughout history however with the dawn of industrialization and capitalism a disconnection has occurred. Capitalism has brought about a focus on materialism and a profit-oriented growth. Industrialization established a concentration of power, coupled with the effects of capitalism a disconnected society was established which has been increasingly more oppressive and harmful to humankind and to the land. Such alienation permeates the planet at every level - from distorted power hierarchies to plastic packaging.

A movement towards Community is not a "band-aid solution" nor is it "a be all to end all" solution. Communities bring together people, intricately, just like the web of life within an ecosystem (Plant 1993). A movement towards community signifies a holistic approach to facing the reality of the present time; a maximization of sustainable potential. Through a community effort, a reconnection is possible. To the degree that a community may become sustainable and healthy, the community must respect, understand and appreciate its bioregion. Communities supply the context for a reexamination of self ideas and of actions. Community praxis is the starting point. A transformation of ideas includes the realization and acceptance that humans are not to be controllers of the land. Humans are but one of the many intricate components of the web of life; equally interdependent and as important as all the other components. Such a non-anthropocentric approach is fundamental to the movement. As Albert Schweitzer once said, " One truth stands firm. All that happens in world history rests on something spiritual. If the spiritual is strong, it creates world history. If it is weak, it suffers world history." Deep Ecology works to reestablish the link of humankind to its surrounding, often this movement is associated with a spiritual dimension to ideas and actions.

Change oriented action involves an effort towards self-reliance, decentralization, simplicity, and active participation in regional activities. Diversity must be evident and celebrated thereby diversity honoured (Plant 1993). Economic practises must be non-exploitive and based on local exchanges to the extent possible. A connection to place and a sense of responsibility is fostered when grassroots decisions are made. When active participation is initiated this as well helps to develop a community connected to place.

Healthy communities are an excellent representation of efforts towards sustainability. It is a working framework for communities to incorporate into regional community developments. Many of our check-list points lie within the Healthy Community initiative. This initiative is expanding across the planet and the movement towards sustainability is therefore occurring world-wide on a local level globally.

As well community initiatives are an integral component of the Ecosystem Approach to sustainability. The Ecosystem Approach is an integration of all areas of the economy, environment, and community; a dynamic interaction. All facets are dependent on one another. The five themes incorporated in this approach are Everything is connected to everything else, ecosystem as home, understanding places, integrating processes and sustainability. All these themes find there very foundation in bioregionalism, deep ecology, communitarianism, and the Healthy Community Initiatives.

Community is an important step in the walk towards sustainability. It involves a re-evaluation of human ideas and actions regarding economic, social, political and personal activities. The University of Waterloo is an important community, as all communities are. It is our hope that in the future, other students like ourselves will take on the challenge of further developing our understanding of community. Many further areas of study have been suggested. Although this project's direction has been somewhat different from most we believe that coming to better understand community has proven to be an imperative step in the movement towards sustainability here at the University of Waterloo.

X References

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Brunk, Conrad. Personal Interview. Tuesday 27 February 1996.

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Shapiro, E. Bioregionalism an interview with Eco-psychologist Elan Shapiro. Creation Spirituality, March/April 1993, pp 16-19.

Warrner, Kieth. Personal Interview. Friday 16 February, 1996.

Wismer, Susan. Personal Interview. Monday 5 February, 1996.

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