So whether you choose to perceive the dissolution of the American Dream as the hero’s journey or as the collapse of industrial civilization—or both, the American Dream was fated to fail each time the collective refused to be instructed by something greater than itself.
Learning how to engage people in our “New Tribe” model took us seven years of devotion and focus. There were some dramatic fails, like repeatedly calling a group of people together saying “Lets build community!” They were always wildly enthusiastic, but for some reason that was the last time that group ever met. After too often “expecting a different result from the same action” we remembered that classic definition of insanity. We learned the big lesson that tribe forms one person at a time, as a series of one to one relationships. This was almost too simple for us to grasp right away.
We need to know that someone, somewhere, has noticed and that they CARE. Which makes US the village, and it’s a job we need to be more careful about getting right. We need to keep a look-out for one another, let ourselves care about strangers, act on behalf of those who are helpless, and encourage everyone we know to do the same.
As I reflect on my travels and interactions during the past year, one theme persists in my conversations with folks about collapse. Whereas the most burning questions used to relate to timelines and the speed of collapse, what I now hear more about these days is a nearly bottomless pit of longing so many people have to be held in some kind of community where one need not face the unraveling alone. When people ask me about options for intentional or unintentional communities, I have little to offer other than websites of various ecovillages and the more abundant options of informal community structures centered around food, alternative healing, Occupy Movement projects, spirituality, or other action-based endeavors. Little is yet available for those seeking residence in a community of collapse-aware individuals who are preparing to navigate the future together while at the same time attempting to maintain a cordial relationship with the world outside the community.
What I’m exploring here is not so much the exact structure of a community, but rather, the deeper sense of community that humans crave and create as a foundation for the literal manifestations of community they may ultimately devise. In other words, what does community mean to the soul, the psyche, the deeper self within us? If we do not attend to this aspect of community, for all of the ostensible successes the community may have achieved, its members may feel vaguely unsatisfied or in some cases, may divest their energy from the community and move on.
The effort to direct life energy at goals unworthy of our knowledge is exhausting. Eventually, our reservoirs of health and luck depleted, we enter a state of crisis. This is a special state, the threshold between worlds. Many of us are there right now, individually; the collective human body is approaching it as well. The purpose of this essay is to describe a paradigm of mutual care that can carry us across the threshold between worlds.