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by Jay Fienberg

PlaNetwork conference, Real Virtual Communities, part 1

posted: Jun 7, 2003 7:56:01 PM

Blogging the PlaNetwork conference in San Francisco.

This presentation features Wendy Brawer, Teresa Collins, Marshall Lefferts, and Sharif Abdullah. Info on Sharif at and

Sharif: virtual community is not community, it does not create or maintain community. It takes the human heart to do that. It can augment community, enhance community. What is community?

The definition of community is based on how you see, your own perceptions of community. Your perception is what you have been trained to see and what you expect to see, and nothing else. You have to test your own training and perceptions to see if you really see community.

Talking about example of going on a hike with a young niece from the city who couldn't see the trees. She only saw the garbage on the ground. Sharif had to have her touch tree and go from one to another before she realized she was in a forest. We all have these gaps in our perception.

Showing slide show of his community. Picture of a woman in Sri Lanka, making pots with clay. Women gathering together to create a microbank of all their money, 500 rupees. Woman walking five miles to get water. Water pot with whole day's supply less than what is in our toilets, and less clean. This is our community: most people in the world look like this.

Men deforesting for wood, line 20 miles long to gather a bicycle load of wood. Know they are destroying the environment, but seemingly no choice. Now going to pictures from Camden, New Jersey. 4 out of 5 buildings is burned out and unoccupied.

Looking at ways that using Internet technologies can change people's lives. Example (slide) of village gathering in Sri Lanka. They are not pressing for high speed Internet access, they are pressing for water. Women who carry pots of water on their heads, want a well.

Sharif put this out on the Common Way email group and raised a few hundred dollars. That was all that was needed, and they created the well. This was all done from Sri Lanka. It was hard to explain to the villagers where the money came from. This is what needs to happen in our world.

We need to redirect out world. The Common Way does this through what is called the Common Society movement. He is going to do the Orientation to A Common Society slide show, which usually takes 45 minutes, in about 7 minutes.

You have to get this orientation from a person: it is not on the Internet.

We are getting pushed and pulled into a common society. Pushed by the mess: wars, aids, holes in the ozone, etc. All of this together makes up our problem, you have to look at them altogether.

Need to understand our society to change it. Consciousness, economics, and power makes up a society. How these elements interact determine whether a society is diseased or healthy.

The consciousness of "I am Separate" yields various types of society, all of them dysfunctional. Us vs them, Violence. No future. Depression and despair. Greed and envy. Promote non-sustainable lifestyles. People have little power to change their lives. Violence is used to keep people in power.

Healthy: mutual service. We are One thinking. A clear vision of a positive future, sense of belonging. Enoughness. Democratic power at the local level. Violence not used to gain power.

Step one: get 1% of humanity behind this. 60 million worldwide. Goal is common leadership society by 2010, but not attached to date. Create common consciousness, commonwealth, and common leadership.

Step two: dialog and visioning process to empower people of the world, not governments in the direction, values, and goals of the planet.

Step three: implement the vision. Maybe take 100 years.

Goal now is to get people together in their living rooms to make this commitment to this orientation.

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