15. Where It Can Take Us: Collective Dreams Of Tomorrow
Let’s return now to our imagined Collective from Chapter 10, The Story Of Us. But this time we rejoin the group five years into the future, in the form of journal entry from one of the early members of the Collective, who is reflecting on all the ways the community has evolved.
1st June, 2025
‘Our Collective has now fully matured and the size of the group has stabilised at around 120 people. Some of us participate in Collective activities most days of the week, while others are much less active, but still stay meaningfully engaged with the group by making sure they are present for key events. A number of children have been born to families in the collective and the parents feel lovingly supported by the huge array of extra ‘aunties and uncles’ that help out where ever they can. The young kids seem to benefit greatly from having so many different role models in their lives.
Some of us have moved into shared accomodation together and a couple of families have developed a co-housing arrangement where they live in seperate houses on the same property, but share a kitchen, studio, laundry and garden space. There is talk amongst some members of buying a large piece of land in the countryside and establishing a residential community there, a place where we can grow our own food and spend time together outside of the hustle and bustle of the city.
Over the last couple of years, a number of us have collaborated on a series of successful social enterprises, including a thriving whole foods cafe and an event space that serves as a hub and meeting place for the entire community. Our monthly Open Mic has become a hugely popular event and extends an opportunity for those outside of our Collective to have a first hand experience of the loving and nurturing space we create when ever our community gathers together. We’ve raised money for a number of causes and funded the development of a community garden that is open to all members of the public.
One of the members in our Collective now sits on the local council and another is running for office in the upcoming state elections. An engineer in our group has been supported by the community in inventing a new way of producing renewable energy from compost, and a group of artists and musicians within the Collective have just collaborated on a performance piece that is designed to mobilise people towards becoming more effective activists for animal welfare.
But perhaps our greatest success has been the cultivation of such a strong sense of belonging and connection within the group. Over time, each of us has softened our more strident individual edges and begun to feel truly accepted and loved for who we are. We’ve become more vulnerable and real with each other and shared countless moments of great tenderness and joy. And as our bonds have deepened we take even more pleasure in witnessing each other blossom along the way.
There have challenging moments as well, and many of us have been openly confronted with coming to terms with our own limiting beliefs, patterns and insecurities. But ultimately, the group has been able to hold one another with loving compassion, and this has allowed each of us to lean into our shadows and continue integrating the parts of ourselves we’ve been doing our best to avoid. When ever there has been conflict within the group, we’ve always taken the time to try and reconcile our differences, which has meant we’ve continuously improved upon our dispute resolution processes and gradually learned to become more graceful in our disagreements. Slowly but surely, as we come to terms with different kinds of trauma each of us are carrying around, we are learning how to express our anger and frustration in more healthy and productive ways.
A number of us have been held and supported through a variety of different crises in our lives. We’ve assisted each other in overcoming injuries, in coping with addiction and in recovering from trauma. We’ve taken the time to learn about each others lived experience of mental illness and disability. Some of us have received assistance in transitioning out of abusive relationships, others amongst us have been guided through the process of changing careers and been supported in finding new ways of generating income. And through all of this, we’ve continually encouraged one another to keep identifying and expressing our needs as they arise, which has enabled us to keep offering each other support, whilst also becoming more practiced at respecting and honouring our own boundaries in the process.
A few members from the group have started a second Collective in a city nearby, and the two communities have begun to cross pollinate each other. Both Collectives are now part of a vast and growing network of mutual aid communities that have begun to sprout up all over the world, and this broader movement is beginning to have a meaningful impact upon the fabric of wider society. We seem to be nearing ever closer to the tipping point where the sense of alienation so prevalent across modern society may finally be starting to give way to a joyous sense of regenerative reconnection. We’re beginning to Collectively Bloom.’
This is just one of the many directions in which a mutual aid community can grow. In reality, each Collective will be wholly unique, as it will be co-created by a distinct group of people with a particular set of needs, values, aspirations and circumstances. And because each community will be a continuously evolving social ecosystem, constantly responding to changes in its surrounding environment, no two Collectives will develop in exactly the same way. Some will have a stronger focus on practices of authentic relating and psychological integration, others will be more geared towards activism or the launching of new kinds of social enterprise. And this points towards one of the more exciting aspects of the Collective Blooming narrative, the fact that each new community will be a wholly unique specimen, which means when they start to blossom, each one will produce a kind of communal flower that has never been seen before.
Personally, I hope to be a part of a Collective that combines together the best qualities of a number of different types of communities that have arisen throughout the ages. Such qualities include:
The egalitarian ethic and connection to nature of a Palaeolithic tribe of Immediate Return Hunter Gatherers.
The deeply peaceful collective resonance and humility of a 3rd Century BCE Buddhist Sangha.
The steady handed effectiveness and noble ethics of an 18th Century Quaker Social Enterprise.
The artistic, philosophical and intellectual flair of a 1920’s Parisian Salon.
The optimism and good natured groundedness of a 1960’s Back To The Land Commune.
The emotional honesty, courage and compassion of one of Carl Rogers 1970’s Encounter Groups.
The (r)Evolutionary zeal of a modern day network of benevolent Anarcho-Hacktivists.
So now that we have a taste of what’s possible, let’s take a closer look at what it means to start finding our way back to community, and how such a journey can completely transform both our inner and outer worlds.