What is Community?

Being in Bangkok for two weeks, and attending countless meetings with CODI and people who are associated with the Baan Mankong Program, the word Community is one, which is often used. That made me wonder, what exactly they meant by community. When it comes to CODI, I understand that Community is made of a set of people who got together by uniting against a cause and usually from the same geographical location. Housing is a process used to create a community. On the other hand we have the national Housing Authority. In my opinion, the NHA’s definition of community surrounds more the idea of people from a variety of backgrounds living in a common space, with no real background connection. To be honest, I’m not really interested in the definitions of these organizations but rather in what the people of the investigated communities define as “Community”.

Photo by: Elian Pena

I took my days on the field as an opportunity to get a grasp of their understanding of community. In an interview set up with the community leaders, I asked them one by one what they thought was community?

  • Community means Participation and Unity
  • Community means sharing not individuality, but rather collectivity
  • There was no sense of unity in our community, until we decided to get together by forming savings groups to better our lives.

Most of these women talked a lot about how the Baan Mankong program united their community and helped them have a more collective lens rather than an individual one. Could it be argued that community is about achieving consensus through collectivity?

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