Prompt: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?
This prompt has all the earmarks of a saccharine overdose in the making. Time to free write to turn over sweetened lemonade into zest from fresh lemons, silk purses into sows ears by free associating "community." Who does not belong to many communities? Sometimes too many communities; some are, if not faux, ersatz, counterfeit, then superficial. If not superficial then limited. A taxonomy of communities might run from all inclusive superficial to limited (functional/ situational) inclusive to exclusive. Then there is classification by function or location, perhaps even Library of Congress and Dewey Decimal classifications. There are obvious overlaps.
Function or purpose: family, neighborhood, age cohort, voluntary associations, common interests or community of interests (professional, avocational), team, workplace, causes, projects, campaigns.
Location, IRL (in real life) or virtual (cyberspace): neighborhood, apartment building, office, school, playground, public space, semi public space, private space, social media circles or groups, discussion lists.
Once again, I defer to Wikipedia (yet another community):
In biological terms, a community is a group of interacting organisms sharing a populated environment. In human communities, intent, belief, resources, preferences, needs, risks, and a number of other conditions may be present and common, affecting the identity of the participants and their degree of cohesiveness.
In sociology, the concept of community has led to significant debate, and sociologists are yet to reach agreement on a definition of the term. There were ninety-four discrete definitions of the term by the mid-1950s. Traditionally a "community" has been defined as a group of interacting people living in a common location. The word is often used to refer to a group that is organized around common values and is attributed with social cohesion within a shared geographical location, generally in social units larger than a household. The word can also refer to the national community or global community.
Since the advent of the Internet, the concept of community no longer has geographical limitations, as people can now virtually gather in an online community and share common interests regardless of physical location.
Community is both cliché and tie that binds (in many senses + being yet another cliché). My communities are real and virtual, immediately present and distant but still preserved in memory, shared experience and ongoing communication (similar etymology to community). I have a local community in Mountainair NM, geographical proximity, common interests tend to the community-specific; a batch of professional and shared interest community. Friendship draws from all the preceding. Family seems the most fragile and fractured.
Community may originally been mostly involuntary (in the same figurative boat). The voluntary/involuntary divide is another taxonomic consideration: where you are stuck and have to make the best of versus where you chose to be ~ want to be if only for a while.