I first learned about community in grad school, both the scholarly work done by Scott Peck —his book The Different Drum came out at that time — and I had found a true community of practice among my grad school cohort at Texas A&M University. This was a group of people committed deeply to caring and supporting each other, along with being totally honest in our relationships. I witnessed the growth that occurred when this was present and knew I wanted this in my future professional life.
Here at MSU I first experienced a new type of community that was tied to place. I think this is an important distinction in this age of habitat loss and dwindling resources. It is not enough to have human-human community — we need to be in communion with all the other non-human species that form our life support system. Of course anyone who knows me well knows that I first experienced this kinship with my beautiful pigs, and my life was radically changed the year that I fell in love with these magnificent animals.
Dr. Thorp is the director of RISE. Reach her at email@example.com.