Social groupings are a core aspect of what we generally understand to be community. The collective participation at places of work, neighbourhoods and clubs are what have been described as the webs that bind individuals, who would otherwise be on their own, contribute to the maintenance of civic social and moral order. Community is to many, the activity of sharing with and participation of commonly held goals that inspire a sense of shared stewardship of neighbourhoods. As such, its important to know one’s neighbour, interacting with them, feeling safe, and experience at least a sense of support through communal networks. This phenomenon is what can be described as ‘connectedness’, in other words, the adhesive that binds the disparate elements of any community together. In attempting to qualify the notional values of what constitutes a community, it becomes clear that it is almost impossible to communicate the subjective understanding of what that means to the individual. What we do know is when an environment is community deficient the results are plain to see. These are the places of apathy, the areas within urban settings that are void of a sense of understanding of the natural world. we can experience the general dulling of the senses that occurs when we feel disconnected from the landscape and our fellow citizens.
The interconnectedness of human beings and their environment is a core theme of sustainable development strategies.
Whereas in the past environmentalists focused on the ‘natural’ world i.e. the atmosphere, rivers, seas, etc., the communitarian’s area of expertise analyses societal characteristics i.e. schools neighbourhoods, families etc. The two parallel conceptual entities are now beginning to merge as a framework for urban sustainability. The cross fertilization of both approaches has filtered into urban planning programs and consequently social justice, equity and philanthropy sit side by side with pollution and ozone depletion as factors of sustainable development. Naturally, the success of sustainability programs and how they are assimilated into communities is largely dependent on cooperation with civil organisations and NGOs.