Connect with us


Newsletter EnglishFrench Spanish  


Twitter @TheConstellati1


Youtube channel: The Constellation SALT-CLCP

What do we mean when we speak of a community?/Qu’est-ce que ça veut dire quand nous parlons de «communauté»?

In the Constellation, we talk a lot about communities. We have the Community Life Competence process. We have a Community Action Day. But what is a community?

The question interests me and I have been exploring how the word has been used the word over time, what the word means today and what the word means for the Constellation.

If we look at the way in which the word is used today, it means almost nothing. The word ‘community’ has come to be used to describe any group that chooses to come together.

But I do not think that this is an adequate definition of ‘community’ for the Constellation. Is the Community Life Competence process appropriate for all groups that come together? I think that for the Constellation the essence of the word ‘community’ is contained within the idea of ‘Local response’.  For us,  a community is a group that can see the benefit in local response.

For the Constellation, a community is any group:

  • where the individuals can identify a common objective
  • where the individuals within the group believe that they can achieve more together than they could when they acted alone and
  • where the individuals freely choose to take action together

I am interested your views so that we can work together to produce a definition of the word ‘community’ that we are comfortable with in the Constellation.

If you would like to read more details, then you can find it here

Dans la Constellation, nous parlons beaucoup de communautés. Nous avons le processus de la compétence communautaire pour la vie. Nous avons la journée de l’action communautaire. Mais qu'est-ce qu'une communauté?

La question m'intéresse et j'ai essayé d'explorer la façon dont le mot a été utilisé, ce que le mot veut dire aujourd'hui et ce que signifie le mot pour la Constellation.

Si on regarde la façon dont le mot est utilisé aujourd'hui, cela signifie presque rien. Le mot «communauté»  est venu à être utilisé pour décrire  un groupe qui choisit de se réunir.

Mais je ne pense pas qu'il s'agit d'une définition adéquate de «communauté» pour  la Constellation. Est-ce qu’on peut utiliser le processus de la compétence communautaire pour la vie avec tous les groupes qui se réunissent? Je pense que pour la Constellation l'essence de la «communauté» est contenu dans l'idée de «réponse locale». Pour nous, une communauté est un groupe qui peut voir les avantages de la réponse locale.

Voici ma definition du mot «communauté»  pour la Constellation.

Pour la Constellation, une communauté est un groupe:

  • où les individus peuvent identifier un objectif commun
  • où les individus au sein du groupe croient qu'ils peuvent faire plus ensemble que ce qu'ils pouvaient quand ils ont agi seuls et
  • où les individus choisissent librement d'agir ensemble

Je suis intéressé par votre point de vue afin que nous puissions travailler ensemble pour produire une définition de «communauté» avec lequel nous sommes à l'aise dans la Constellation.

Si vous souhaitez lire plus de détails, vous pouvez le trouver ici:


A ce moment, cette page est en anglais, mais j’essaierai de produire une version française bientôt.

Views: 321

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Phil, Great research!

After reflecting a bit more, I really like the three elements that you draw from the literature (it embodies a principle for human organization, it’s founded on choice, it’s not restricted to location).

And after the adaptation, I actually agree with your definition of a community. If we miss one of these, our process is not going to work out very well. I would say these are the 3 almost prerequisites to get the most use out of our process. At the same time, we always see individuals in a community that are not convinced of 1 or more of these points. Somehow, I feel that some critical mass or majority needs to confirm these 3 aspects, before we can start playing the ‘midwife’.  

On the last point (individuals freely choose to take action together), I am wondering what is ‘freely’. If they get money if they take action together, is that freely? Do we make a distinction there between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation?



en francais


Phil, bonne recherche!
Après avoir réfléchi un peu plus, j'aime bien les trois éléments que tu extrais de la littérature (elle incarne un principe d'organisation de l'homme, il est fondé sur le choixil ne se limite pas à l'endroit).

Et après l'adaptation, je suis d'accord avec votre définition de la communauté. Si nous manquons une d'elles, notre processus ne va pas fonctionner très bien. Je dirais que ce sont les 3 conditions afin de realiser le potentiel de notre processus. Au même temps, nous voyons toujours des individus dans une communauté qui ne sont pas convaincus de 1 ou plusieurs de ces points. D'une certaine manière, je pense que une certaine masse critique ou la majorité doit confirmer ces 3 aspects, avant que nous puissions commencer à jouer la «sage-femme ».

Sur ce dernier point (les individus choisissent librement d'agir ensemble), je me demande ce qui est «librement». Si elles reçoivent de l'argent si elles agir ensemble,c'est que librement? Ne nous faisons une distinction at-il entre motivation extrinsèque et intrinsèque?

My experience as a facilitator defines community as group of people with shared believe that they can solve their own issues im building from Gaston 3points ------SALT

This question is very valid especially that the name of this platform tells us about community (community life competence). The CLC should have a definition of operational terms on the first place in order for each members to have a universal view of what "community is all about".


Referencing on the articles at the ADB learning resource package which I consider a vintage, like a Bible and very useful in my daily undertakings it discussed about the 7 foundations. One of it is "community". It talks about community not in a relative sense of just geography, people grouped according to common cause, similar attributes like age-grouping, people groupoed accoriding to hobbies or interests, or those grouped according to their common cause but across the board, it talks about a universal principle that:

"reflects the relationships between its members and how those relationships connect people together".

Many would use the term "community" to describe their group or other forms of groupings, but this platform should guide contributors that what we mean of community here is more profound and based on a principle. Let me put into example the given definition above:


1. where the individuals can identify a common objective

2. where the individuals within the group believe that they can achieve more together than they could when they acted alone and

3. where the individuals freely choose to take action together


For me these are not principles but these are applications of the principles on the concept of  "community". To achieve community competence, we first have competence on the LEVELS OF APPLICATION where the highest level achieves the principle:

"Where individuals build relationships between and among each other and build a common understanding, objectives and cause toward a community owned response".

I suggest that the the concept of community as one of the seven transferable concepts that reflect the foundations of Human Capacity for Response would be adopted by the constellation for its working definition of the concept "Community"


Read you all soon. Sorry for the scarce participation, been to busy doing field work and  was sick for 3 weeks.









There are so many things in your note that help me. Perhaps I can try them out with you. 


I very much like your point that my points are applications of some kind of principle and the challenge is to find that principle. So perhaps I can try to develop your principle a little further. 


I read in your note the idea that a community progresses. First of all, it works to build a common understanding. And then it moves on to see if it can develop some shared objectives. And this can lead to a shared action, the community owned response. 


And perhaps the role of the Constellation is to help a community to explore how far along that route it wishes to go. And the Community Life Competence process is in one way an exploration of that route. And in the Constellation we seek to encourage communities to move along that route as far as possible. 



Hi Phil,

The principle is the principle of community.  The role of the constellation is to capture community knowledge from various sources with regards how they apply the concept of community in their respective work.

I like your idea of the "route". I think what the constellation can develop is a conceptual framework of that route in which the end is community life competence.

As I review the posts in these threads, I see numerous measurable concepts that are related to the principle of community. Like the sense of "belonging" from Ian, then "identity" according to Onesmus, and "membership" according to Geoff and "shared belief" according to Abednego.

So among all of us here, we have common understanding expressed in different concepts and to further weave these very useful concepts into one principle that is "community". We need the tools for people to measure their competency in line with the principle of community. Not only tools but also support (coaching, mentoring, co-creation of local concepts and access to material and financial support).

I guess my definition of community is a personal one and it is not based on a lot of research. It is also feeling based.
For me in a community, there is a sense of belonging. I guess that sense of belonging can come from different sources... friendship, sharing of space, common interest, common practice...
For me, there is no need for 'common action to meet a challenge' to be a community. When I sing in a choir in DRC, I feel that I am part of that community. Is 'singing' the kind of action that I see in your last action point?
Thanks a lot for stimulating the reflection :-)

Message from Ian Campbell, sent by email


Belonging is the key underpinning

Second try/Deuxième effort


I have tried to update my understanding of community based on the comments Thank you for your ideas. Here is where I have come to:


The development of a community


Community is a word that has come to mean different things to different people.

And the danger is that it becomes so many things to so many different people, that the word itself means nothing.

The idea  of community sits at the heart of the Constellation. And so we should take care to make clear what it means to us.


At its most broad, a community is nothing more than a group that shares 'something'.

At its weakest, the group may share nothing more than a physical location (perhaps, a commuter town outside a large city).

At its strongest, the individuals in the group may devote their lives to a shared idea and to each other (for example, a religious community).

And between these  two extremes there is an infinite range of possibilities for sharing.


If we accept this idea, we can suggest that communities evolve as the extent to which they share broadens and deepens.


The first stage in this evolution is the recognition of a shared interest.
This shared interest could be based around location, but it does not have to be. So the dormitory town could perhaps recognise that it needs a better bus service to the large where lots of people work.
But the community  could be based around an enthusiasm for singing and the people who make up that community could be made up of people from a range of 'physical' communities.


The next step in the progression of the community is the recognition of a shared objective.

So when a group goes beyond complaining that the bus service to the nearest town is dreadful and they decide that they are going to do something about it, they have a shared objective.
(In England, where I live, people would stop saying, "Somebody should do something about that dreadful bus service!' and would start to say, "We are going to do something about that bus service!")


The consequence of a shared objective is naturally shared action. And shared action is Local Response


The role of the Constellation is to stimulate communities to move along the path from shared interest to shared objective to shared action. And the Community Life Competence process is the tool that communities use to do that. Since we work only by invitation, this means that there is at least one member of the community that sees the benefit of moving along this path. 

J’ai pris les idées que j’ai reçues et voice le résultat. Merci bien pour toutes les idées.


Le développement d'une communauté


'Communauté' est un mot qui est venu à signifier des choses différentes pour différentes personnes.

Et le danger est qu'elle devient tellement de choses à tant de gens différents, que le mot lui-même ne signifie rien.

L'idée de communauté est au cœur de la Constellation. Et donc nous devons prendre soin de préciser ce que cela signifie pour nous.


Au niveau le plus large, une communauté est tout simplement un groupe qui partage «quelque chose».

Le groupe peut partager rien de plus qu'un lieu physique (peut-être, une ville de banlieue en dehors d'une grande ville).

À son plus fort, les individus dans le groupe peut consacrer leur vie à une idée commune et à l'autre (par exemple, une communauté religieuse).

Et entre ces deux extrêmes, il existe une gamme infinie de possibilités de partage.


Si nous acceptons cette idée, nous pouvons suggérer que les communautés évoluent quand la mesure dans laquelle ils partagent élargit et approfondit.


La première étape de cette évolution est la reconnaissance d'un intérêt commun.
Cet intérêt partagé pourrait être basé sur l'emplacement, mais ce n'est pas nécessaire. Ainsi, la ville-dortoir pourrait peut-être reconnaître qu'il a besoin d'un meilleur service de bus à la grande ville, où beaucoup de gens travaillent.
Mais la communauté pourrait être basé autour d'un enthousiasme pour le chant et les gens qui composent cette communauté pourrait être composé de personnes de toute une gamme de «physique» des communautés.


La prochaine étape dans la progression de la communauté est la reconnaissance d'un objectif commun.

Alors, quand un groupe va au-delà se plaignant que le service d'autobus à la ville la plus proche est terrible et ils décident qu'ils vont faire quelque chose, ils ont un objectif commun.
(En Angleterre, où j'habite, les gens s'arrêtent de dire: "Quelqu'un doit faire quelque chose!" et se mettent  à dire: "Nous allons faire quelque chose!")


La conséquence d'un objectif commun est naturellement action partagée. Et l'action partagée est la réponse locale.


Le rôle de la Constellation est de stimuler les communautés à avancer sur la voie de l'intérêt partagé à objectif commun à l'action commune. Et la Communauté Life Competence processus est l'outil que les communautés utilisent pour faire cela. Comme nous travaillons uniquement par invitation, cela signifie qu'il ya au moins un membre de la communauté qui voit l'avantage de se déplacer le long de ce chemin. 


Dear Phil,


This has been a very helpful discussion because I faced the same dilemma when I went through the Constellation website for the first time. With a work background in HIV sector for me the first thought of community was marginalised populations. However, over the course of time I realised it could hold different meanings for different people. If you recall the email which said that in Russian language there is no concept of community.

I read the whole discussion and thought of my two  friends. Both were born and brought up in Mumbai. The female friend had to move to another city for work and misses the community, her neighbourhood, her geographical community. Whereas the male friend who is a gay has not been able to disclose his status to his neighbours due to fear of stigma. As he tells me that he feels at home when he goes to the office of his MSM organisation and has a strong community feeling because he can be himself but keeps a distance from his neighbours. Therefore, a sense of belonging could be critical to determine community feeling.


Thoroughly enjoyed this discussion.


Yes I agree that community does not limit to a geographical location. I think of a community of Constellation Coaches in different parts of the world but can identify with each other and plan activities with similar results, can support each other in many ways, especially morally, share experiences. These qualities / elements contribute to a group of humans being in a community.



Hi Phil

this resonates well with something I have just read from FAO (Food & Agriculture Organisation in Rome)  on an e-learning module [] for knowledge sharing.


They define a community as "A set of people who define themselves as members, who care about something in common - a shared interest - and interact around that interest over time.


Membership is something very explicit in communities. You know who belongs (and who doesn't!) in the group. You know who is who.
Membership also implies roles. In communities, we talk about "community leaders" and "charters", and other forms of group agreements. Communities have mechanisms to sign up and belong, and expectations about how people might participate.
Finally, membership allows people to establish a professional identity amongst peers. People build their own reputation in a community. If a member of a community contributes consistently over time, people know they can rely on both the person's knowledge and their reliability.


Strong communities are often very clear about their shared interest. They notice and respond when it changes over time.
However, the strong focus tends to weed out people who are less interested or committed to the shared interest and potentially exclude diverse ideas.
Sometimes this interest is imposed by one's job description or organization. Sometimes it comes from our own personal motivation.


Communities are not one-time things. A single great meeting may enable a lot of knowledge sharing, but a community keeps up that sharing over time. So thinking about how we support our "togetherness" over time in a community is important. 
Today, being together can mean people who regularly see each other face to face, or who interact together online. It means seeing a community in terms of it's lifecycle of beginning, middle and end. Sometimes, it means being patient for a community to evolve."


Their focus is around development communities but the elements of membership, shared interest and interaction (or acting together)  seem to to be key elements of a geographical community too.







The sense of identity is my word here



© 2023   Created by Rituu B. Nanda.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service