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painting. It’s a constantly evolving work in progress, sometimes scheduled and sometimes spontaneous, but always full of people having fun together. In New York, the Horse Trade

Theater Group is well known for its independent talent and events, featur- ing open mic, improv, dance and other “drafts in development,” as they nourish the organic advancement of community ( The Windmill Mar- ket, in Fairhope, Alabama, offers yet another twist—bringing food, textiles, film, antiques and plants together. Part farmers’ market, part craft fair and part community garden, it’s all about nurtur- ing the fiber of community (Windmill

Of course, the ultimate in structure and spontaneity may be the extraordi- nary Burning Man Project, an annual art event and temporary community based on self-expression and self- reliance in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. This year’s theme is “Metropo- lis: The Life of Cities.” (For details of the August 30-September 6, event, visit

Expanding and Amplifying Interconnections

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” ~ Albert Einstein

While the Burning Man Project is significant for its magnitude and sheer eclecticism, it is temporary, its existence imprinted mainly in the memories

50 NA Triangle

of participants. But most creative communities exist like Russian dolls, nested inside other communities and networks of cre- ative activity. These orchestrated inter- community initia- tives can transform a neighborhood’s or city’s well-being on multiple lev- els. Vehicles vary widely, but here are a few examples to get the creative

juices flowing. One Book, One City local read-

ing programs, like the ones in Chicago, Denver, Malibu, San Diego, Philadelphia and Seattle, engage a whole community in choosing a book to read over a period of time. Readers then come together to participate in a variety of related events. The idea was the 1998 brainchild of Nancy Pearl at the Washington Cen- ter for the Book at The Seattle Public Library. Many communities choose to feature a local author, and this decision is often socially transformative. At the other end of the spectrum,

Flash Mobs entail large groups of volunteers who appear to spontane- ously perform a clever act of theater in a public space for a brief period of time. Initially designed as a combined social experiment and form of performance art, the first flash mob occurred at Macy’s in New York City in 2003, organized by Bill Wasik, of Harper’s Magazine. Flash mobs have since appeared

all over the country; some more struc- tured than others, but always evoking the feeling that they are happening on the spur of the moment. Whether dramatic or musically inclined, they’re

always designed to make us become truly present in our environment; their brilliance is the connection they spark between the actions of the mob and the place we inhabit as an audience. (See, search Frozen Grand Central Station.)

Public participation is the name of the global game with International Pillowfight Day, as communities come together with pillows to play. Part of the Urban Playground Movement, the idea is to reclaim public space for play, away from advertising and consumer- ism ( Taking a cue from “A Day in the

Life” photography projects, World Pinhole Photography Day (PinHoleDay. org) recruits everyday people to create a pinhole camera and take a picture of something in their local community. It happens on the same day, usually the last Sunday in April. Everyone then loads their images onto the collective website to beget a global gallery of images. Finally, the

Global Mala Proj- ect demonstrates what can be ac- complished with a worldwide, inter-community,

consciousness-raising event (GlobalMa- Here, yoga studios from many nations gather local individuals to form a “mala around the Earth,” as they per- form ritual practices based on the sacred cycle of 108, to raise funds and aware- ness for pressing global issues. This year, the mala will be held September 18-19. Tune in for an “Om” heard ‘round the world.

Kirsten Broadfoot has lived and worked in New Zealand, Australia, the UK, Japan and the United States, granting her a profound appreciation of community life. She has created and coordinates two online communities, the Good Work Circle and COMMUNEcation, and has written numerous conference papers, academic articles and essays. Connect at

Raw Spirit Festival, Sedona AZ

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