How to Build Vibrant Communities

In contrast to the Community Associations Institute Rights and Responsibilities statement, I offer the guidelines taken from a communitarian point of view¹. Please note that the communitarian philosophy, unlike CAI’s, addresses the broader social and political environment and not just planned communities. An environment under the laws and protection of the US Constitution, and not under private contractual governments designed by profit motivated real estate business interests.

The communitarian philosophy attempts to balance individual rights with the requirements for a healthy, vibrant and productive community. The philosophy reflects an awareness, like contained in the Social Contract (1762 ) by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, that individuals must surrender certain of their rights in order to produce desirable societies and communities, and that certain police powers must be in place to make this happen in an orderly manner.

In my prior post, CAI’s Rights and Responsibilities Ignore Legality of the HOA Model, I presented aspects of CAI’s guidelines for a better community. Compare the tone and language of the following communitarian views with that of CAI in my prior post, and understand the failure of CAI to advance a workable policy.

From the author:

Nor can any community long survive unless its members dedicate some of their attention, energy, and resources to shared projects. That communities have obligations — including the duty to be responsive to their members . . .

The preservation of individual liberty depends on the active maintenance of the institutions of civil society where citizens learn respect for others . . .

The success of the democratic experiment in ordered liberty . . . depends not on fiat or force, but on building shared values . . .

We seek to curb the role of private money, special interests and corruption in government. We ask how “private governments”, whether corporations or voluntary associations, can become more responsive to their members and to the community.

Nor do we hold “that any set of group values is ipso facto [by its very nature] good merely because such values originate in the community” and “that communal values must be judged by external overriding criteria, based on shared human experience”

Americans should foster a spirit of reconciliation. When conflicts do arise, we should seek the least destructive means of resolving them. Adversarial litigation is often not the optimal way.

The community is responsible for protecting each of us from catastrophe . . . for ensuring the basic needs of all who genuinely cannot provide for themselves.

If communities are to function well, most members must discharge their responsibilities because they are committed to do so, not because they fear lawsuits, penalties, or jails.

1. The Spirit of Community, Amatai Etzioni, The Responsive Communitarian Platform (Touchstone 1993).

Published in: on December 15, 2006 at 9:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

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