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19 August 2006


mysterious traveler

First of all: The post gives fabulous context to your blog, and ought to be available from every page ("who is J LeRoy and why is he blogging?")

Now, my reaction: As I finished reading it was as if several lights went on over my head about my own relationship with the concept of community, which I would describe as "uneasy."

I'm a journalist, an observer, and much of my early career involved covering issues in New England towns and cities in which individuals who advocated change were systematically ignored, subverted, or destroyed by their own communities. In most cases, this was because the majority of people in the community were terrified of becoming involved in any sort of change. They preferred complaining about and suffering from institutionally driven change (even when it stemmed from government corruption) change to having anything to do with grassroots movements. It's much gentler out here in Seattle, but not much more encouraging.

Speaking for myself, not for journalists in general, I have come to mistrust communities, from my neighborhood to my computer user group to religious institutions. As someone who feels herself to be very much outside of communities, it is fascinating to read the views of someone who thrives within them. Perhaps the communities I'm thinking of might best be described as "passive" communities and the ones you talk about are "active" or "purpose-driven" communities.

(Yes, I know the irony of this comment is that I met you at a community event!)

Jon Ramer

Jim, You are amazing! I learned more about you in the last ten minutes than I knew over the last three years. I want to learn more about the NAMES project and the work you did on urban development.

Jim Benson

Jon: You know, seriously, my self concept is that I'm the guy who can't stop talking about himself. So it amazes me that there's much left that anyone does not know about me!

Karen of Mystery: Vision builds a strong community regardless of whether it is active or passive. You need something to rally around - even if it is as personally intangible as a city.

Norm Rice made Seattle a City by providing a coherent vision. Fredrico Pena did the same with Denver. Seattle now has no vision and that is reflected in the aimless and dysfunctional communities we see now. Community is not a priority and unless people try to make it one it will languish.

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