• Noel Williams

5 Examples of Thriving Collaborative Communities



Collaborative Communities can be used as great instruments to effect meaningful change in the world. They can be considered to be a more effective method to promote change when compared to traditional mechanisms imposed by organizations, coalitions or task forces.


Traditional groups tend to follow a vertical structure in which decision making follows a clear hierarchy, with the most important decisions being resolved at the top. People therefore derive their authority depending on their relevant position within the company hierarchy.


An example of where this is prevalent is in professional organizations where the leadership is clearly centralized, and communication is confined to various departments. There may be little collaboration between departments or room for individuals lower in the hierarchy to make any meaningful or impactful decisions.


Collaborative communities on the other hand are structured horizontally. This means that if there is a leadership structure within the organization it is distributed very broadly. People develop their authority by being connected and involved in their local communities and getting involved in a variety of society projects.


Communication in collaborative communities can be considered more informal, personal and conversational. There is room for everyone to contribute and work for the greater good.

In this guide we introduce you to 5 Examples of Thriving Collaborative Communities:


1. Permaculture Communities


The term permaculture refers to a system of principles and beliefs that revolve around people living based on features found in natural ecosystems. Those involved in this niche culture are often volunteers to the community. It is very similar to volunteering in the community in many ways because everyone works together to achieve common goals.


Members of permaculture communities observe how organisms interact and how they can then use those observations to rethink and redesign their own communities. Permaculture essentially seeks to build resilient cultures and communities which can live seamlessly with the natural world.[1]

An amazing example of a thriving permaculture community is the Rak Tamachat Permaculture Community located in Thailand.


This community consists of Thai and International members who have joined forces to live a more natural life by being closer to nature. The community grows their own food, limits consumption, reduces their waste and the unnecessary destruction of nonrenewable resources. They live their lives in the most basic way so as to best take care of the natural environment and arguably themselves. They live without any monetary incentive or influence from governments or large businesses.


Rak Tamachat Permaculture Community also offers its members various natural building and design courses as well as various internship, diploma and degree opportunities. The Rak Tamachat is a great example of a collaborative community looking to effect meaningful and positive change in the world.


2. NextDoor Online Community


NextDoor is a private online community which encourages members to engage in purposeful dialogue with their neighbors. Founder, Sarah Leary designed the website to provide a platform for people to start conversations with their neighbors in an effort to unite their local communities. Amazingly, there is over 35,000 neighbourhoods around the United States using the site today.


The ultimate goal of the platform is to make communities safer and stronger by encouraging members to work together. Members can chat with one another, discuss pressing issues, promote events and more. A big way the site is used is for neighbors to communicate through it to create crime watching teams to monitor suspicious behaviour around the neighbourhood.


Other uses include:


  • Using it to organize community initiatives

  • Posting about pets that are missing

  • Seeking services such as babysitting or house sitting


The NextDoor Online Community is a great collaborative community which helps neighbourhoods all over the United States thrive.


3. Mozilla Science Lab


The Mozilla Science Lab is another prominent example of a collaborative community with no leadership structure.


The Lab helps bring together researchers and innovators to connect in an effort to help influence the future and progression of science. The Lab provides a space for direct and open dialog between researcher and the wider online community. Scientists are able to share ideas and resources, all the while exploring other ways to promote collaboration in scientific research.

The primary focuses of the Lab are:

  • To provide an online platform for the sharing of scientific research. This in turn aims to empower young adults, particularly students, to become ‘digital researchers’

  • To promote innovation within the community to push and explore the boundaries of scientific research by using the web

  • Starting an international conversation where everyone around the globe can participate and share thoughts and ideas

The Mozilla Science Lab is a powerful collaborative community using the web to promote the use of science to make the world a better place.


4. Natural Disaster collaboration


After a devastating earthquake hit Alaska, collaborative communities, which can be known as Natural Disaster collaborations, came together to provide help. The collaboration included federal organizations, faith-based groups and members of the community who shared the same aim - to help individuals in need.


With the help of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), communities, residents and businesses in the state of Alaska worked to build a more resilient community. Communication was encouraged between religious and volunteer organizations as well as community leaders.

By working together, FEMA was able to provide:

  • Funding for housing, medical support

  • Child-care and moving expenses

  • Business and homeowner/renter loans

By working in collaboration, the community of Alaska took meaningful and efficient steps towards normalcy. The effort of all parties involved with disaster relief without the presence of a single leader shows how effective collaborative communities can be.

5. Ants Work In a Collaborative Community


They may not be the first thing you think of when you think of a collaborative community, but what is a better example than Ants!


Ants are known to create amazing working colonies by working and interacting with each other without the presence of a single leader. They use nothing more than dirt to create structures that are so intricate and functional, we humans can learn a thing or two.


They can be said to behave as a single organism working with collective intelligence to get the job done. Instead of a head ant delegating tasks in a hierarchical structure, ants have been observed to follow a more of decentralized system.


A quote from a National Geographic Article stated that “No ant sees a big picture. No ant tells another any what to do. The bottom line is that no leadership is required. Even complex behaviour may be coordinated by relatively simple interactions”. Individual ants simply perceive what is around them and then make a decision.


Business and communities can learn from ants and their self-organizing teams, especially during this uncertain time. Today, people are working remotely, sparking the need for successful self-organizing relationships.


Management 3.0 is a great example of a virtual self-organizing organization which allows their employees to decide their roles and how they interact and collaborate with each other. Deadlines are also flexible, there are no set hours, holidays are unlimited and there is no hierarchy. Although adopting an ant-like team strategy employees who work for Management 3.0 are always able to deliver and the online company is very successful.


Ants give a great example of how humans can coordinate and perform without the need or presence of intrusive leadership or external parties. Their ingenious and complex self-organization model may be considered more effective than a traditional top-down hierarchy highlighting the benefits of collaborative communities.

There are many examples of thriving collaborative communities around the world. The ones listed above are just a few powerful examples of how they can be used to create great change in the world. Although traditional methods may be considered necessary, collaborative communities are far more inclusive, conversational and personal.


Create your own collaborative community


Download the free Nomos time banking app to connect with other like-minded individuals and create your very own collaborative community. You can bank hours as currency and easily keep track of many hours you and receive and give. Swap your hours to hire people’s services or advertise your own!


You can also:


  • Connect with new people in your community who share similar interests

  • Help the people in your neighbourhood by creating a thriving collaborative community

  • Get to know existing collaborative communities and join in

Download the Nomos App today, start time banking and connect with other time bank communities.


Sources:


[1] https://www.ic.org/social-permaculture-what-is-it/

[2] https://raktamachat.org/

[3] https://global.nextdoor.com/

[4] https://wiki.mozilla.org/ScienceLab

[5] https://www.fema.gov/

[6] https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/

[7] https://management30.com/


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