Power of Neighbors

Neighbors know much that businesses and governments literally could never afford to know. Neighbors are also the ultimate source of money, reputation, and authority for both business and governments. In other words, neighborly behavior is the life blood of businesses and governments. This power is usually latent--unseen, undiscussed, and unexercised.

Generative Change is at least a three step dance: invention; diffusion of innovation; maintenance of innovation against obsolescence or competitive replacement. (In an expansive moment I listed 15 sequential steps, 15 Ps.

Our assumptions about property guide our thinking and behaviors--especially in how we think about our neighbors and neighborhoods. Before going much further we should have a shared understanding of three different types of Property and Ownership rights and responsibilities: common property, public property and private property.

Controlling the relationships with external businesses is perhaps the most important survival skill for the human race. I propose that the primary scale for exerting this control is at the neighborhood level. It is here that people can most effectively self-organize to take care of one another's Essential Needs.

Diffusion of innovation, outside of government, is very personal and originates in Trust Networks. Trust seems to be akin to inverse square relationships, decreasing exponentially as distance grows. Proximity is a great advantage for creating and rebuilding trust. Peer influence is a big factor in the diffusion of innovation. Dynamics of Trust and peer-to-peer interaction are a potent attractive forces available for neighborhood projects.

There will always be forces at play to decrease local neighborhood dynamics, robbing neighbors of their power--leaving the power of neighbors latent, dormant, unused. I believe that these forces easily can be surfaced and countered at the neighborhood level. Neighborhoods can be visualized as a system of interactions, some of which enliven the neighborhood and others which deplete the life of the neighborhood. Particulars will matter a great deal as we go about increasing the power of neighbors.

This is where Neighborhood Mapping offers hope and power. Seeing the internal and external forces and aligning them to the life of neighbors and neighborhoods. (I am talking about a form of mapping that is much more than the asset mapping of the 80's and 90's.)

With process of mapping we can discover the self-organizing capability of neighborhoods and invest in the self-organizing. Bring more living within the control of the neighbors. Removing the costly control by external businesses and governments whenever possible and controlling the relationship with external businesses and governments when their services are required by the neighbors.

The first and biggest challenge will be that of self-control. This must to some extent precede controlling the relationships with governments and external businesses. Neighbors must learn and practice balancing the relationships within the neighborhood. Failing this ongoing challenge, neighborhoods are at the mercy of unwitting governments and external businesses.

There is one particularly pernicious combination of external business and government which harms neighborhoods--the predatory (extractive) domains of outside Finance must be brought under local control, just as we do when cougars come into our communities and school yards.