Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v03n24)
Green Broad Ripple - Community - by Cortellini
posted: Dec. 01, 2006
My wife and I do many things (see the last article) that are Green. These acts are not mere symbols of our Green conviction, but practical ways to lessen the damage being done to our environment. Even so, we realize our small Green acts pale to insignificance when compared to the juggernaut "Take Make Waste" industrial system that continues to churn profit from activities that contribute, directly or indirectly, to the degradation of the Earth's biosphere. If the majority of our neighbors followed these Green practices, our collective impact would begin to have serious practical consequences - the most important being capturing the attention of the Captains of Industry so they might recognize the fallacy in conducting business as usual. Yet, one knows that significant Green change, the kind of change that is needed now, can only happen when individuals come together and work through "Community."
"Community" is a fluid concept. It has many subtle meanings that are context dependent. Yet, we need to look into and better understand the deeper workings of "Community" because of its importance to our being able to affect meaningful change toward a positive collective future. Many of America's greatest thinkers have thought and spoken about "Community." Novelist/poet Margaret Atwood pointed to what seems to be a general consensus. In a recent interview she said; "The United States has promoted individualism so much that the responsibilities of giving to a community, and vice versa, have been trampled by rampant individualism. . . " Hearing this we ask - how can Broad Ripple, with its strong individualistic sense of itself, come together and form any kind of stable cohesive "Community?" Novelist E.L. Doctorow; ". . . Communities appear temporally rather than spatially. They form as circumstances demand, and when the emergency is over people go back to their semi-estranged mood..." Can we not attest to this through our own practical Broad Ripple experience?
Important too is the recognition of the fundamental distinction between "Neighborhood" and "Community". The Broad Ripple "Neighborhood" is defined geographically. It is bounded on the North by the river; South by Kessler Blvd.; West by Meridian St.; and East by Evanston Ave. In round numbers, there are about 12,000 people that reside within these boundaries. If you own property, live, or work here you are part of the "Neighborhood." You have a right to claim a measure of ownership and you acquire a certain Membership in the "Hood." Membership in the Broad Ripple "Community", however, is not nearly so straight forward. It is conveyed not through geography but through human interconnection and only comes into being when neighbors realize their interdependence, develop the intent to give of themselves, and commit to the collective well-being of the group.
Although "Community" is not defined by geography, it does have boundaries. The boundaries are defined by who belongs and who does not. Interconnectedness establishes the boundary and defines "Membership." Who are the "Members" of the Broad Ripple Community? What percentage of the 12,000 neighbors claims "Membership?" What will induce more people, especially the young, to become "Members?"
These are questions worthy of answers more complete than will fit in the space available to this column, and I am hopeful that Broad Ripple will muster the will to address them. As it does so, the words of the great Green thinker, Wendell Berry, expressed through the voice of one of his characters may serve. ". . . The difference ain't in who is a member and who is not, but in who knows it and who don't." We in Broad Ripple are all, in varying ways, interconnected. We are all "Members of the Community." Some of us know it. Some of us don't.
How about you - do you know?
Cortellini is a licensed architect in the states of Indiana and Arizona. He holds a BFA from Indiana University Herron School of Art. He has taught architectural technology at the college level at several universities and has pursued independent artistic endeavors. His architectural practice has focused on residential and small commercial projects. He has recently committed his practice to designing Green buildings, is a member of the US Green Building Council and is a LEED Accredited Professional. Send questions/comments to cortellini@BroadRippleGazette.com