“We have all known the long loneliness… and we have found that the answer is community.”Dorothy Day
The title of The Answer is Community comes from this abbreviated quote by Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement. If you are not familiar with Dorothy Day, well, you should be. Dorothy is known for her 20th century injection of service, compassion and solidarity into the Catholic Church, and is associated with a long legacy of organizing and social-justice campaigns. Her legacy is impressive enough that in a recent address to Congress, Pope Francis highlighted Dorothy Day along with Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr, and Thomas Merton. That’s not bad company to keep!
Although I am not a Catholic, I find Dorothy’s work inspiring and her core values akin to the values that drive my community-based landscape architecture practice. This particular quote has always resonated with me. It touches on the deeply human drive for connection that underpins all community-based organizing and practice, no matter the discipline or context. I felt it provided an inspired header under which to place my written work.
I started The Answer is Community because after fifteen years of working directly with communities to craft public spaces, I felt there was a chance others would find valuable what I had to say. I have also found that amongst the seemingly infinite amount of chatter and crafted on-line content, there was lacking a critical and experienced voice drawing connections between the things that matter most to me:
- The human-centered drive to connect and belong and the value of place-based communities
- The power of community driven design to bring people together
- Best practices of inclusive and decisiveness community engagement
- Commentary on local and national events vis-a-vis these topics
So I’m diving-in with The Answer is Community. My goal is to publish a new piece bi-weekly, and I hope this rhythm is the right balance between time and accountability. Writing can be challenging for me, so please bear with me as I give written voice to my observations and the ideas swirling around my head.
I hope this blog will eventually expand to include other voices and encompass larger conversations and collaborations. If you are interested, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I would love to hear from you.
About Eric Higbee
Eric Higbee is a landscape architect who utilizes his creative talents to forge stronger place-based communities. His work is typically manifested in the facilitation and design of community-driven spaces like community gardens, playgrounds, and parks, although his fifteen years of practice has spanned projects of all types and sizes.
Eric believes that communities are often at the leading edge of innovation and progress, and that in an increasingly tribal world community-driven placemaking has incredible potential to bring us together. He has learned that authentic engagement takes time, structure, and practice, but has seen first-hand how the right approach brings together diverse groups around common goals.
Eric is the principal landscape architect at Convene, a small collaborative landscape architecture practice based in Seattle, WA. He has earned multiple awards for his work, and teaches community based-design as an Affiliate Faculty member at the University of Washington Department of Landscape Architecture. Eric is the former Executive and Design Director of Pomegranite Center, a non-profit organization nationally renowned for its community engagement methodology and creative placemaking practice.