This blog is continued from Susanna’s first post, here.
Susanne Ratka is a GEN Ambassador, seeker and community researcher who has recently spent 2 weeks supporting the GEN team in the Findhorn office. Simultaneously, she has embarked upon a journey to connect and inspire with her Community Research Project. Here, in the second part of Susanna’s article, she generously shares her path to community research and some of her learnings along the way.
Community Research Project – Inspiring a New Way
I started the Community Research Project with the following overarching questions:
- What can society learn from the diverse experiences gathered by these alternative communities over the past decades?
- How do we want to live tomorrow? Do we want to continue our alienated unhappy ways, or is there already a blueprint available for more humanly satisfying ways of living?
As soon as I had made my decision, things quickly fell into place. A dear friend created a very attractive website for my project (www.comresp.com), I gave up my expensive apartment, got rid of most of my furniture and belongings and moved into a small room at my best friend’s place. Since I would be travelling most of the time anyway, why keep an entire apartment?
Then another friend of mine who is a professor at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development offered to help me set up an interview format for the project and to informally supervise me. Although my project is a non-academic independent research, the selection criteria, catalogue of questions and interview procedures are based on objective scientific standards.
The GEN-Europe conference in Angsbacka last year was the initiatory starting point to my new episode of life. It was wonderful and encouraging to learn, dance, sing, talk, and just to be, with about 500 likeminded enthusiastic beings – a deep immersion in group and community spirit. I will be heading to the next GEN Europe Conference, this year in Lilleoru, Estonia, between 11-14 July, to reconnect with the GEN family.
My belief is that if given the option, many people would prefer a living situation less isolated than what most of us experience today.The human being seems to have a natural preference for living in community. Yet, only a tiny percentage of the population currently enjoy the pleasures of being embedded in a group of like-minded people who share the same values, like living more in harmony in nature and growing your own vegetables.
And, more importantly, accompanying each other through the various life challenges as we grow older, like raising children, dealing with health challenges,emotional crises, growing old, and celebrating life together through play, music and celebratory meals.
The majority of people in our modern society remain trapped in relative isolation, but then there are those few who actually dare to take the leap and start to build an intentional community together with other good-hearted people.Sadly, statistics show that in spite of the good intentions of the people involved more than ninety percent of these experiments fail within the first two years.
“Forming a new community is like simultaneously trying to start a new business and begin a marriage — and is every bit as serious as doing either.” Diana Leafe Christian
The Community Research Project focuses on the remaining ten percent and aims to find out the common success strategies and unique strengths of a number of selected group experiments that have overcome the initial challenges and are still thriving after many years.
The aim of the Community Research Project is to find out and publicly share the unique accomplishments and wisdom that each of these communities have gained over a long period of development, and how society at large can benefit from their insights.
Thanks for your interest in my journey and research. For more information, you can visit the Community Research Project here.