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 https://sites.google.com/a/communitylifecompetence.org/learning/hom...

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.

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What do you mean, Onesmus? Can you explain a bit more?

Cher Phil

Je crois que tu as raison sur les 3 critères. Pour chacun de ces critères c'est souvent l'approche Salt qui révèle à un communauté qu'ils répondent à ces 3 critères sans qu'elle en soit consciente au départ.

Je suis d'accord avec Gaston que le mot "librement" pourrait être enlevé de la définition.


I like this Phil! It works for me. One thing: On the second point (shared objective), I do not always think that the objective is shared. It can be an individual objective (taking care of my personal health or spiritual growth etc), but perhaps they are similar to other individual objectives in the community. Then joint action can help various individuals to achieve their individual objectives. But it's important that the action is group-based (with a sense of belonging).  


Does that make sense? 



J'aime bien cette explication Phil! Ca marche pour moi. Une chose: Sur le second point (objectif commun), je ne pense pas toujours que l'objectif est partagé. Ca peut être un objectif individuel (en prenant soin de ma santé personnelle ou de la croissance spirituelle, etc), mais peut-être qu'ils sont semblables à d'autres objectifs individuels dans la communauté. Ensuite, une action commune peut aider les differentes individus d'atteindre leurs objectifs individuels. Mais il est important que l'action est fondée sur le groupement (avec un sentiment d'appartenance).

Est-ce que ca marche pour vous?

Frankly, I think an exploration of the definition of "community," while important, is not vital. Rather, what we need to concentrate on is enhancing our understanding of an organization or a project's relationship to its constituency. You can read more on a piece I wrote entitled, Spotting Community Ownership. Determining whether a development initiative is occurring for or with the community is sometimes subtle but the most vital definition of which we need to be clear.

Dear Jennifer,


For us a community is not only a geographical community but also a 'working community' like an organisation :-) That's why it is interesting to discuss about how we define communities...



Hi Jennifer, 

I guess it's just a personal challenge for me to be able to deal with the question, 'What is a community?' when I talk about the Community Life Competence process. I found that I was not able to do justice to the question. Hence my need to explore the topic. 


Do you think that in addition to initiatives for and with the community we should envisage initiatives by the community?




Indeed Phil! BY is the most important.

Hi Phil, this 'questionnaire' on community mobilisation http://www.txsip.org/TSIP/Toolkit/CommScore.pdf seems to identify three elements: 

1. Sense of community

2. The capacity to mobilise

3. The readiness for focused action

Hi Phil,

As I go about thinking of the different groups I have been working with, I was asking myself this question : what is community? Is community defined as "whenever 2 or 3 are gathered, then, they form a community? Is community different from groups?

So, I was very happy to find this discussion on the meaning of community.

My personal definition would be that community is where people with COMMON interest/passion/goal come together and each is willing to INVEST their resources for the COMMON GOOD - it involves both giving and receiving.

Groups are people coming together - but not all may be wanting or ready to both give and receive.

I hope my definition and understanding of community especially in the context of Community Life Competence will get clearer as I learn more through the Blended Learning and with more SALT practices.

Hi Gloria, I like this a lot. It shows the important 'commitment' part of each individual as being part of the community. They have to see the common good and be committed to act towards that by investing their resources. Not all, but at least time inputs. 


Or can a community members be a simple 'consumer' of the community's output without contributing? 



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