The evolution of community

Posted by Autumn

This is a little story about Joe the cave man, Pleistocene predators, and how communities evolved.

In the beginning, there was Joe.

Joe was a prehistoric man with a problem. He had found a good cave to live in—it was dry and blocked the wind and was big enough for him to store extra food and furs. The problem? A pack of enormous mondo wolves had decided they liked the cave, too. At first, Joe scared away the wolves by lighting a fire and throwing rocks and even bits of burning wood at them. It worked, except that the wolves were beginning to lose their fear of the rocks and the fire. The cave mouth was too big, and the fire too small. And Joe had to sleep sometime….

What Joe needed was a friend to throw rocks at the hypercarnivores while he slept. He’d gladly return the favor.

Joe needed a community.

Author Interruption: Anthropologists believe that communities evolved because groups of people who were living close together realized that by combining efforts and pooling resources, they had a higher chance of survival. Now back to the story.

Joe had a neighbor named Steve.

Steve was a big guy, but he wasn’t very good at making spears, and so all of his weapons sailed to the left when released. He was having trouble feeding his family, which was large. He lived with his wife, their two kids, his mother, his wife's sister, and his mother-in-law, who was never happy about anything and constantly nagged at Steve about how he could do this better, or that differently. He could have really used a bigger cave, too. And a friend.

Joe and Steve met one day, and the community was born. Joe taught Steve how to hunt, Steve and his family moved in, Joe finally slept through night because there were so many people to watch for the super-wolves. And they all lived happily ever after, except Steve’s mothe r-in-law, who was never happy about anything.

Now that we know longer have to fight off Beringian wolves, (I swear I did not make up those big bad wolves) we can focus our communities on less life-or-death agendas.

We continue to come together and form groups to enact shared agendas, celebrate shared beliefs, or take part in shared interests. There are lots of kinds of communities, including college fraternities and sororities, political clubs, sewing circles, and book clubs. Even a group of retirees who meet at the dog park at 2 p.m. every Wednesday before getting the Early Bird Special down at Rosie’s because that’s where they have the really good chicken salad…is a community.

One universal benefit for all members of a community is the group’s awareness of a problem with one individual, and their combined efforts to develop solutions. Let’s say Sally is part of a knitting circle and they are all making socks for Christmas, but Sally doesn’t know how to shape a heel. The group offers suggestions, and Sally learns to make socks in time for Christmas presents. Problem identified and solved, and Sally’s husband gets some nice socks. Everybody wins.


And now that we have the Internet--the ultimate Land Bridge, connecting us to individuals with shared interests from down the street to across the globe--you can talk to other sock knitters on Facebook, or follow a Twitter feed dedicated to embroidering little cavemen onto clothing. Whatever your interest is.

What communities do you belong to? Do you belong to the OttLite Community yet? If not, and you want to (and why wouldn’t you want to?) just plug your email into the "Sign up now" bar at the top of this page. We’ll let you know when we have special offers or sales, and any interesting news or words of inspiration we find.


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  • KnittingMom 11 years 299 days ago
    Lol...had never thought about it this way before.