It seems that most social groups are formed with a desire to bring together people with similar worldviews (such as a church or religious organization), goals, and cultures. We humans have an innate gregariousness which is usually in tension with our fear of “the other”.
Neighborhood Gatherings are formed with the intention of changing those we consider to be other, or members of them, into members of us—not by converting them, but by accepting and caring for them simply because they are our neighbors. Neighbors are welcomed without regard to religion, politics, race, social status, wealth, gender, age, sexual preference, or ability to tell jokes.
Small and Local
Neighbors Gatherings (NGs) are small groups of local neighbors within walking, biking, or short driving distance of one another who meet face-to-face on a regular basis. Why small and local? Because …
* NGs reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
* NGs are able to identify and use more local resources.
* NGs encourage participation and dialog.
* NGs create an environment for friendship and mutual support.
* NGs can meet two of our greatest needs after essential needs have been met—Intimacy and Ultimacy, or the need to belong and the need for meaning and purpose.
* NGs are primary units of social change and participatory citizenship.
* NGs are where we can care for one another and be accepted for who we are without any façade.
* NGs can become an extended family and a healthy environment for raising children.
* NGs are where each voice can be heard.
* NGs are beautiful. (E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful)
Leadership and authority are based on service to the community rather than institutional position.
Leadership arises as needs are discovered.
Leaders are discovered and recognized rather than elected or appointed.
Leadership is diverse, diffused, and situational.
Different people may lead depending upon how their desire, experience, and knowledge can be useful to the community at any occasion. NGs have no central source of authority—each group is interdependent, self-organizing and self-governing.
The mode of authority is based on a power that operates with others rather than over others.
The power to influence and be influenced (sometimes called Relational Power) trumps the power to dominate and control (Unilateral Power).
Neighbors are compelled and constrained by love (rather than rules, laws, contracts, constitutions, codes, written agreements or any other external authority).
Self-control is encouraged—including controlling the urge to control others.