Community Development: A world of hope

 

community

Presented by:

Tim

Introduction

Vampires, modern living vampires, very often refer to the sum of the interactions between themselves as the “community”, it is a term that has been in use since the beginning and is probably, by far, the most easily and universally recognised descriptor of what we recognise as being the “social” group of modern living vampirism. You may have seen (read) me arguing the point and trading precise definitions with others, of the word “community”. One of the reasons that I feel so strongly about the use of term in our situation is that the basis of the definition is restrictive in its literal meaning and in considering such it becomes even more necessary to examine the prospects for future “community development”. It is a simple fact of life that if a community doesn’t develop, change and grow then the eventual stagnation will become too great for the community structure to resist and the growth will be overtaken by social entropy.

 

Each community faces unique challenges that are, often times unavoidable but it is how that community faces and rises to those challenges which define it as being a strong or weak community.

I was talking with a person the other day who has visited Detroit and mention was made of the fact that the city was disappointing and that they couldn’t believe the number of abandoned and derelict buildings there, the fact is that with the all but collapse of American car manufacturing it was inevitable that a community based around that industry would suffer with the loss of industry. Think of a mining boom ghost town of the old days, while the gold was coming out of the ground the town was alive, vibrant, full of people and rich in “community” but when the gold ran out and there was nothing to replace it… entropy set in and eventually the community is abandoned.

One image that may be closer to home for everybody exists in the health care sector. When you are in pain or have a health problem you go to a doctor or a hospital. Those people or institutions set to work to isolate the problem assess it and fix it and everybody says thank you. Now think about how many people you know that “hate” dentists. Why do people hate dentists? What have dentists ever done to deserve their hatred? Often people will go to a dentist because they have a toothache but in order to stop the toothache the dentist, often, has to inflict a greater amount of pain, if you go to a dentist for a check up you may be feeling fine when you go in but the dentist finds a problem that needs fixing and all of a sudden someone is ramming horse-scale needles into your mouth before the scream of the drill sets your nerves on edge and they cause more pain by drilling at your teeth, followed quite naturally by the recovery period which is filled with a kind of sickly, burning soreness that can take a couple of days or more to go away. People hate dentists because in order to cure the pain, or potential pain, dentists have to inflict pain. People hate dentists because dentists inflict pain, that’s the general logic. It doesn’t matter that you might not have looked after your own dental hygiene properly, it doesn’t matter about the accident that cracked your tooth and it doesn’t matter about the chap that punched you in the face in the half-time brawl at the football, those reasons pale into insignificance next to the fact that you are being “hurt” by the man in the white smock coat. Being hurt by the dental health community.

 

Communities are defined by their effect on those within and around them and the development of communities, according to Wenger, McDermott and Snyder [1] “is their ability to generate enough excitement, relevance and value to attract and engage members

 

Yes, the modern living vampire sub-culture may be a sub-culture and it may, at times, attract greater than usual participation and activity but the end result always seems to be a return to hiatus and very little “community development”, if any. If, on the other hand, all of its constituent elements be they artistic, social, charitable, academic and cultural could be forged into a working community development program then the benefits for the whole would be astounding.
 

The Seven Design Principles

As eschewed by Wenger et al, “The goal of community design is to bring out the community’s own internal direction, character, and energy.”

The principles designed by the authors, simply listed, are:

1. Design for evolution.

2. Open a dialogue between inside and outside perspectives.

3. Invite different levels of participation.

4. Develop both public and private community spaces.

5. Focus on value.

6. Combine familiarity and excitement.

7. Create a rhythm for the community.

 

It may be perceived, by different observers that these things are, to one extent or another already appearing to some stage or another but the entire project of community development hinges on not one, two or three of them being in focus at any given time rather that all receive the equal input and effort to bring on the whole rather than trying to keep the “parts” tied together.

The principles can be as flexible or as rigid as required and the developments driven by community needs rather than outside expectations. For example, outside charities are indeed worthy causes and the activities that are directed to that quarter are undoubtedly something to be proud of however, they do not directly benefit the modern vampire community wherein there are many who are in dire need of aid and support. Caring for, and working within, ones own “community” primarily enhances the quality of that community sector and therefore makes the entire community stronger and more stable. When community figures are known and respected for listening to “their” people then they may achieve greater things still.

In a paper delivered to the Shaffer Symposium at the University of Wisconsin in 2001, Dr. J.M. Cavaye observed:

Community development initiatives clearly need to provide information and services.

However, development agencies need to do more than disseminate information and services. Staff need to also partner communities to help them gain access to services and information. This means training, coaching and working with community groups to help them access appropriate information and help them improve their capacity to navigate the broad array of services available.”[2]

 

In order to develop, extend and “rethink” it is vital that old and outdated ideas give way to new ideas, concepts and thinking. It has been almost fourteen years now since the first version of the famous Black Veil (http://vampyrium.wordpress.com/the-black-veil-publications/)was written as a guide for the community and in that time there have been great changes indeed, there have been steps forward and there have been setbacks, the fact is that somehow, through it all, the “community” has survived. It has survived because new thoughts kept it growing and for those of us who have been around for ten or more years in this environment it is sometimes difficult to let go of old ideas and old ways. If the newcomers, with their fresh ideas and interpretations, are not nurtured, and their ideas allowed to grow and blossom, then we become an old, archaic and irrelevant icon of the past. Rather than trying to “train” new people to think like us we should be training ourselves to let go of prejudices and preconceptions so we can open the way for another burst of growth and expansion of the global vampire sub-culture.

In conclusion:

The demographic of the sub-culture is changing, the people who are coming into the field have different concepts and ideas and while not all have been tried before some have, maybe they have been tried to no avail but that doesn’t mean that will always be the case. Perhaps, at other times, it wasn’t the right time and place for an idea to take root, grow and produce benefits but if we look on at the new ideas, sneer and say, “What do you know, you’ve only been here five minutes?” then we are condemning ourselves to the image of a cynical, crusty and inflexible old grump which will drive the new ideas away… just when we could use them.

Somebody once typed to me, “Community unity is a myth.” Vampires are a myth but here we are and I would imagine the people of north America felt that way too… until the War of Independence.

 

Man on the moon was a myth, a fantasy, giant squid were a myth, travelling at hypersonic speeds was a myth… if they had stayed that way we wouldn’t have those things and the contributions and spin-off benefits that we have today. Nothing is impossible but it really does depend on a suspension of disbelief, a willingness to engage positively toward a group goal and the flexibility to put prejudices and preconceived ideas aside in favour of hearing and reading the new.

 

I don’t believe that “Community Unity” is a myth, I never have. I’ve never believed those who say it’s a pipe dream because so many things have, over the centuries, been seen in the same light and have, ultimately, been realised. I think it’s time to realise the truth that the modern real living vampire community can be so much more than it is and it is time to form a sub-culture wide approach to making that happen.

 

© TB/RVL 2013

 

NB: Quoted portions of other works are reproduced under the “fair use for education” provisions of relevant legislations.

The views and opinions presented in this article are the opinions of the author and/or contributors and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of The Owner/s of RVL, their officers, assigns or agents. RVL and its officers do not personally, individually, or jointly necessarily recommend or condone any of the activities or practices represented, and accept no liability, nor responsibility, for the use or misuse thereof. Anything that the reader takes from this article is taken at their own discretion. 

For further details please see our Website Disclaimer

 

1) Seven Principles for Cultivating Communities of Practice. Wenger, McDermott and Snyder, HBSWK Pub. 2002

2) Cavaye J.M. (2001) Rural Community Development: New Challenges and Enduring Dilemmas. The Journal of Regional Policy Analysis Vol 31 No 2 pp 109-124.

 

Further Reading:
The Citizen’s Handbook 

 

A Special Message from John Reason

Hello dear readers,

My name is John Reason, and I am the owner/editor here at Real Vampire News. (RVN)

My presence in the online vampire community (OVC) has decreased greatly in recent times. I don’t like to use RVN as my personal soapbox, but I feel I owe an explanation to the readers of this site.

I started RVN because I saw an opportunity to build a website that could host information for/about vampires from all over the world. My dream for this site has always been to help people. I believe that encouraging communication between different groups will foster understanding and peace. I also feel that posting informational articles will help folks who need to understand their personal vampirism a little more. As you can imagine, it is very difficult to even try to cover every group of vampires, and every bit of information on vampirism. We here at RVN do our absolute best though. The only thing I want from RVN is to help people. I don’t want to be a “face” or spokesperson for vampires. I don’t want recognition. I find it hard to be happy, and when a person contacts me to say they gained something from my writing – I feel a type of joy that I rarely experience. That is all the reward I need.

In the last couple years, a lot has changed for me. I went to college. I got married. I rented a house. Good times. Then I developed a degenerative disease that causes me agonizing pain every moment of my life. Then I started a business that is sucking the life out of me. Now I am going through a divorce. These are all very personal things. I try to keep them to myself. Unfortunately, that is not how the world works. Between emotional pain of losing the love of my life, and the physical pain that makes it hard to live a semblance of my former life – it is damn near impossible for me to be involved in the OVC in the way I once was. I miss helping people. When I was forced to focus on my own life (due to pain that was so bad, I literally couldn’t crawl out of bed for days at a time), I was able to lay my responsibilities on kind folks who could carry my weight, even when I couldn’t. Most notable of these people are Tim and Lady M. These folks have spent countless hours researching, writing, and working for this site. They go above and beyond what I ever expected for RVN. Not only do they work hard, but they work hard to keep the spirit of RVN, and every single piece that has been posted is personally approved by me. Most people would try and “take over” a site in their position, and it says a lot that they always try to make sure they are fulfilling my goals and dreams.

I hope that someday I will be able to get back to the OVC and RVN like I was in the past. I don’t know if that will ever be possible, but I do know that the future of RVN is directly determined by the people who want to help. I will always be involved. Even if my name is not on every article, I am there behind the curtain.

RVN is not a “blog” in the conventional sense. It is somewhere between an online magazine and a news website. Sometimes it is hard to decide what we should post, but we try to stay within those guidelines. RVN is not a forum for opinions, though they do sometimes show in our writing. This creates a problem – people suck. There are plenty of people that I don’t like. There are plenty of people who don’t like me. There are many problems in my life. I am sure some people could even argue that I am a bad person. When I write for RVN or the OVC in general, I am not writing for me though. Even when I write about my personal experiences, I do it for other people. In much the same way, Tim is a person. Some people don’t like him, and he doesn’t like some people. That is why he doesn’t post his opinions here. When he or I want to express ourselves personally, we do it on our own personal blogs, or in other manners. Sometimes though, opinions shine through – but that is not the goal. The goal is to help people, and help the community. If you don’t like what we are doing, I suggest one thing – HELP US! The reason I felt I needed to start a new website instead of writing for others was they they didn’t want me. I want you. I want you to share your knowledge and your help. As long as you are polite, non-derogatory, helpful, and as non-biased as possible – we welcome your contributions.

The content on RVN is based on many variables; The people who are involved in writing the articles, activity in the community, and our reader’s responses. The last one is especially hard. Some people like interviews, some people hate them. Obviously we can’t have half-interviews as if they are Schrodinger’s Cat. We do our best to please our readers, and provide entertaining content. If you like what we have to offer, please say so. If you don’t like it, please say so! But please, do it kindly. Commenting on the articles is easy, and all polite, non-derogatory comments will be approved. I hate to admit this, but I have low self-esteem and thin skin. A big reason I have stepped back from the OVC is because I don’t deal well with people when they try to tear me apart, insult me, cyber-stalk, bully, reveal my personal information, and so many other things. It is a personal fault of mine. So please, remember that we are all people. We all have feelings. Personal qualms should be settled personally, and even when we are angry and hurt – we should do our best to be good people.

My goal for this site is to help people, but my dream is for it to be a site filled with content written by people from all over the community. As long as you are polite, helpful, and kind – we want you! Come join us, and share your knowledge, and help us cover more of the community. The more people involved,  the more representative RVN will be of the community as a whole.

I would like to thank all the people who read this site, and all those who have been involved with it over the years.  I hope that this has adequately explained why some things have changed around here.

Please accept my sincerest apology that I have not been able to give more to the community.

Sincerely,

-John Reason

Owner/Editor

Crossroads ~ Pride, Prejudice, Intolerance and Ignorance

Date: 14 Sep 2011

Author: Tim

Pic. credit – socialnewswatch.com

Questions of origins, questions of paths, allegations of role-playing and the sometimes hardline approach and ostracism that often come with exercising the right of free speech. As a microcosm of humanity and the world the OVC is not so very different from the norm, it just happens to populated by a variety of vampires and otherkin.

Someone wrote a comment a little while back that, in a nutshell, said, “Show me a community of more than ten people that doesn’t have drama”, or words to that effect. I’d like someone to detail community concepts and practices that seek to address these problems. The main efforts that I am aware of exist in the form of the VVC (Voices of the Vampire Community) , Dark nations on the Ning network ~ although Dark nations leans more toward “inter-group” relations rather than community wide and the AVA with its collaboration with author Joseph Laycock.

As in so many other parts of RL, politics and religion for example, everybody seems to be, by their own admission, in possession of a “truth”, their own “truth” but there seems to be no basic truth that can be agreed on. Until the basics are agreed on then the matter of progress becomes problematic. Without a common ground there is no springboard from which to launch.

Much has been made over the last couple of years about gaining acceptance for the lifestyle in the broader community outside the VC/OVC but the problem with that is that if the vampire community cannot come to a cohesive and universal approach to the subject then the task of convincing outsiders, who read only what springs out of the newspapers at them, becomes infinitely complex and much more demanding. There has long been a strong undertow of support for the concept of staying “in the coffin”, so to speak and with each new media report of so called “vampire attacks” that comes out we must surely wonder if that is not the best course of action.

Despite valiant efforts by certain groups within the community the PR is being driven by the popular press and that is not doing the community any favours. So, what’s the best course of action? Where can a start be made in re-defining or re-representing the modern community as being no more a threat than say the Wiccan community or any other peaceful and, in general, law-abiding group in society?

It doesn’t matter in the slightest whether you’re a “solitary”, a “group member” or a “coven/ house participant”, we are all, in some way, painted with the same media brush and the only people that can do anything about it is us but only if a unified approach is designed and implemented. A favourite saying that you might have come across within the community is that it is, “Easier to herd cats than to get vampires to agree on anything”… I suggest that before we can hope to gain any sort of wider acceptance we need to learn how to herd cats.

One of the key elements in that learning process, in my mind, is breaking down the barriers that seem to exist, openly or not, between members of different paths in the community. It’s been going on since the beginning, it’s still going on now and will probably continue for a good long while but as in any societal group these intolerances in interactions need to be resolved before the more meaningful and productive steps can be taken.

© RVN 2011, 2012 (except where noted.)

NB: Quoted portions of other works are reproduced under the “fair use for education” provisions of relevant legislations.

The views and opinions presented in this article are the opinions of the author and/or contributors and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of The Owner/s of RVN, their officers, assigns or agents. RVN and its officers do not personally, individually, or jointly necessarily recommend or condone any of the activities or practices represented, and accept no liability, nor responsibility, for the use or misuse thereof. Anything that the reader takes from this article is taken at their own discretion. 

For further details please see our Website Disclaimer