How to Build Community based on our Biology

Understanding simple biological concepts can help us develop happier and healthier communities. These communities can help us reduce our: environmental footprint, material consumption, dependency on government, and at the same time provide us with more care and meaning in our lives, and be sustainable.

I have been interested in how to create better places since architecture school at the University of Florida, in the early 1980’s. Over time my interests have expanded from place, to community.In studying how to build better communities I started to run into a wall. I was studying communities through the world of urban planning. Looking at issues such as; creating a sense of place, density, walkability, and land use patterns. But, there was no end to this urban development pattern. What was pushing back against the community to keep it in balance with its environment? How big should the community be and what should it contain? What is the purpose of community? Live questions that urban planning did not provide me with satisfying answers to. I started to study biology to see if it could help answer these questions. In biology, livings systems consist of cells, organs, organisms, populations, communities, and ecosystems. Biology study’s community! What can it teach us about why and how they should be built?

This paper is a result of this research. Studying living systems has helped answer many of my community planning questions, and more. It has also given me a better perspective on my relationships with others, and with my environment. It has also been a spiritual experience, helping me better understand my place in the world.

Interested? I invite you now to come with me and explore where we are, how we got here and, most importantly, how we can go "Back to the Garden." Start reading with Chapter 1 below.

We Are Out of Balance

We are out of balance! We are out of balance with: ourselves, our community, and our environment. Many of our institutions and corporations are not serving our needs, but are looking to exploit us to serve their own.

Chapter 1: The Problem–Out of Balance
Can Biology Help Us Find Our Way?

Can biology help us understand our place in the world, and how to build better communities and overall society? Biology is the study of living systems. As we study biology, we learn much about the way we should live

Chapter 2: Can Biology Help Find the Way?
Living Systems Are Aware

Living systems are aware of what is going on in their environments. Along with sensing mechanisms, living systems have developed a processing center to make sense out of the information coming in from its environment.

Chapter 3: Living Systems Are Aware
Male and Female Characteristics

Why did life create males and females? What was the evolutionary benefits of life evolving through the two sexes? By combining DNA from both partners, you allow for greater DNA variation.

Chapter 4: Male and Female Characteristics
Living in a Competitive Environment

In nature, life typically finds itself in a competitive male dominated environment with other living systems. In this environment, each life force needs to compete and find its own niche, or it will perish.

Chapter 5: Living in a Competitive Environment
Living Systems Work Like Gardeners

Like a gardener tending a plot of land, living systems perform work by taking control and organizing their environment. They all have a program or goal that they are trying to reach.

Chapter 6: Living Systems Work Like Gardeners
Food Chain and Food Web

A food chain is the feeding relationship between organisms in a community, where energy is transferred from one organism to another. An ecosystem contains many food chains; these feeding relationships are called a food web.

Chapter 7: Food Chain and Food Web
Evolution: A 4-Billion-Year Journey

AHow do you wrap your head around 4-billion years? How many life cycles have occurred in our own evolution? Thus, there must have been billions and billions of life cycles from the start of life on earth to our present day!

Chapter 8: Evolution: A 4-Billion-Year Journey
Western Civilization’s Evolution

How do you wrap your head around 4-billion years? How many life cycles have occurred in our own evolution? Thus, there must have been billions and billions of life cycles from the start of life on earth to our present day!

Chapter 9: Western Civilization’s Evolution
Our Economic Food Web

Over time our economic food web has become much larger and in many cases, global in scale. Powerful business interests are shaping the global economy, with local communities having less and less control.

Chapter 10: Our Economic Food Web
Scales of Living Systems

At all scales of life, living systems need to deal with basically the same issues; issues such as protection, resource capture, awareness, integration, care, growth and development, and reproduction.

Chapter 11: Scales of Living Systems
Family – Super-Organism

A healthy family functions like a single organism, carrying out all the functions of life and creating a stability for the family to grow and develop. The shell of the family is its dwelling.

Chapter 12: Family – Super-Organism
Purpose of Community

A community is a group of people living in the same place. A healthy and meaningful community is one where the residents work together to reach common goals, taking on the characteristics of a large family.

Chapter 13: Purpose of Community
Historic Communities

Historically, a community consisted of an urban core or village, surrounded by nature and farmland. This historic pattern has a cellular structure. Here are some examples to think about.

Chapter 14: Historic Communities
Today's Communities

In today’s world, many of one’s daily activities have been pulled outside of a traditional community scale. In most cases, one’s daily activities are no longer walkable. This sprawling pattern has dis-integrated the community.

Chapter 15: Today's Communities
Biological Principles Applied

The community should function like a self-contained cell. As many functions, as possible should be performed within the community. Members of a community should be able to work within their community, whenever possible.

Chapter 16: Biological Principles Applied