Bare Bones Biology 129 – Community III

Community is a big deal these days, and community building is a hot topic. So lots of people are out there building communities; but what I hear them talk about – do they really know what a community is? And if not. How can they build one? I don’t see communities; I see dollar signs and dominance relationships, and while I’m sure you can’t have a community with no source of support and no defined relationships – also I know that dollars and dominance are not enough for a sustainable community. You can build a “network” that way, but not a community.

That’s a problem for humans, because humans are a social species. We cannot fulfill our deepest, inherited needs without community, and how can you build something if you don’t know what it is?

The social sciences. and the dictionary. define community as a group of people. Different definitions talk about different sorts of groups, but basically, they say a community is a group of people. Oxford American Dictionary – “A body of people living in one place or district or country and considered as a whole.” Well, OK, if that’s their idea of a community, then there is no reason for community building. We already have several billions of people in various groups on earth. That should be enough people, and enough groups. Clearly we need a better idea of communities, or we wouldn’t keep trying to build them.

The problem seems to be that we all have different ideas, and we all keep doing more of whatever we were taught to do – or not do. That’s what got us here in the first place, and I’m fairly sure you can’t cure a problem by doing more and more of what caused the problem in the first place. I think there is a different word for that – addiction, I think if we had a real human community we probably wouldn’t need addictions for a substitute.

The biological definition of community is very different from the social sciences definition. Biologically, a group of any one species (such as a group of people), the biological word for that is not community – it is population. The population of humans in College Station. The population of goatweeds on my ranch. The population of a certain kind of mosquito in the Brazos Valley.

The biological definition of community is: “all the plants and other organisms that live in the same area and interact with one another.”

So biologically, a community is ALL the organisms. Because they all do interact with each other, either directly or indirectly. All the populations in the Brazos Valley. The population of goatweeds and of mosquitoes and of humans – all those populations of organism together form the community of the Brazos Valley, along with all the millions more populations of organisms. When I say millions, we must consider the good rich soil of the bottom-land and all the other places where there are – yes – millions of different kinds of micro-organisms contributing to Life, if we haven’t killed them off, and all the plants and all the insects, the spiders that used to live here and everything else that is alive. That is the biological definition of community.

So it seems that everyone who is using the word community is not talking about the same thing – but we all are right. Whenever everyone is right, and they are all using the same words to mean different things, that is a perfect setup for arguments. But why argue? We do want the same thing; we only need to know what it is.

I believe a human community is a group of people who interact with each other in emotional and social ways very much like the organisms of a biological community interact among themselves in biological ways. Why? The function of biological communities is to promote the welfare of Life Itself. The valid function of human communities is also to serve Life — so that Life may provide for us the earth, air, fire and water that we require to maintain our human communities.

By that definition, I see very few human communities in this country. And very little community building.

LynnLamoreux@Yahoo.com

This blog is an expanded version of Bare Bones Biology radio program that is playing
this week on KEOS Radio, 98.1 FM, Bryan, Texas. The podcast can be downloaded at

Tags: community_building, biology, addiction, population, social_sciences, social_species, networks, community

Recommended References:
Previous Bare Bones Biology in this series on community
Bare Bones Biology 127 – community
https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2012/10/07/
Bare Bones Biology 128 – community
https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/

Odum, Eugene P. Fundamentals of Ecology, any edition, the “bible” of ecology
Krebs, Charles. 2008. The Ecological World View. University of California Press
http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520254794

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