Many threads are coming together to suggest that the community scale will be a major focus for cultural change in the coming decade:

  • There is a growing awareness that the root causes of most environmental problems are over-consumption of resources and excessive production of waste in the industrialized world. Much of that consumption occurs at a community level, especially in the ways we house and transport ourselves. Significant relief for the environment won’t come until we transform our communities.
  • Large institutions – especially businesses and governments – are losing touch with the grass roots. They are becoming less effective, less responsible, and more self-absorbed. Because of this, more and more people are realizing that it now makes better sense to look to community-scale organizations for the support and security they used to expect from large institutions.
  • At the same time, many people are feeling an increasing hunger for the warmth, support, and rich human experience that is found only in community. We are being pulled as well as pushed to community.

For all these reasons, the wisdom and desirability of revitalizing and transforming our community life seems clear. The challenge, however, is getting there, for community transformation requires:

  • confronting and redirecting the enormous momentum (in our institutions and in our daily habits) that has produced our over-consumptive and alienated society, and
  • cooperating – in substantial ways and over the long haul – with a wide spectrum of people, a skill which, for many of us, is a bit rusty.

Fortunately, there are many pioneers who have shown that it can be done, indeed it can be done joyfully. In this issue, we visit some of these pioneers and look at how to build on their accomplishments and experiences.

This issue also marks a milestone in the life of our small "community" here at Context Institute. Alan AtKisson, whose skillful editing during the past four years made a major contribution to IN CONTEXT’s development, moved on to other interests in July. We wish Alan well as he continues to work for a humane and sustainable future through his work with Sustainable Seattle and in other venues.

And we welcome Sarah van Gelder, who joined us in mid-August as IN CONTEXT’s new managing editor. We all feel she has done very well in quickly coming up to speed with this challenging (some would say daunting) task. (See p. 63 for more.)

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