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The IFRC Community

Updated: Oct 27, 2022

The community in the Community Park project refers to all its members - residents, IFRC staff, institutions and associations. Shared usage is based on commonly agreed rules that generate rights and responsibilities. These are the very foundations of the concept of community.

Traditional definitions of community refer to it as first, a place, and then a way of life. It is thus a pattern of relationships in which people inhabiting a space create a normative for themselves in a specific locality. This sense of shared space is very important to a community and can include massive territories such as the nation state or a small neighbourhood.

What is important to remember is that whatever the scale - the community is both important to evoke and difficult to create. It cannot be taken for granted, There is a need to consciously engage with community formation as an ongoing process.

IFRC Chalet Park - Neighbourhood associations and neighbours come together for a workshop.

Typically, a community evokes a sense of belonging that is based on shared usage of a space. Such usage means negotiations and adjustments between its different members. These eventually carve a shared space that is convivial and inclusive through self-awareness and engagement. At any level - local, regional or international - the community spirit is always based on adjustments and negotiations between its different members.

The presence of an institution in a neighbourhood - especially a global one - brings in complexities of its own. While members who live together can create a relatively more spontaneous sense of community, sharing space through configurations that are brought in by institutions with affiliations to places elsewhere may seem to pose greater challenges.

This seemed to be corroborated by our preliminary conversations in which members from the IFRC as well as those from the neighbourhood (who did not have direct connections with the IFRC) acknowledged the presence of barriers.

Fences enclosing the IFRC building

However, barriers, fences, social distances and plain lack of awareness are typical examples of community life everywhere. Even without institutions, a place can have tensions between groups based on familiarity (as within families) or suspicion (of cultural others, or people who come from elsewhere).

The advantage that an institution has is that it is a bit of both, an insider as well as an outsider, something familiar, as well as strange. However, it can become an effective community creator when it actively seeks to know its own context, its own environment and its neighbours. And when it openly invites its neighbours to get involved in the future of a space that it wants to share with them - as in the Community park - then for sure it has made a concrete step to actively creating a community.

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