Defining Community, Defining Engagement

Community noun

/kəˈmjuː.nə.ti/-t ̬i/ [C + singular or plural verb]


•the people living in one particular area or people who are considered as a unit because of their common interests, social group or nationality

•There’s a real sense of community (= caring and friendly feeling) in this neighbourhood.

•specialised a group of animals or plants that live or grow together

•the community

•the general public



the notion of community has been on my mind recently, a growing (is it growing, or has it always been this way?) obsession (if you could call it that) within modern society (have we become societies rather than communities?) -the bypassing of a traditional sense of community in favour of high-speed gadgetry and increasing suspicion of strangers (and the unknown?).


This has come about partially from a new temporary installation I have been considering for the past week or two as I drive past my chosen site. Part guerrilla tactics, part brick-like subtlety I’m mulling it over quietly, frustration bubbling under the surface. 


Partially too, as ‘community engagement’ becomes the driving force behind the initial stage of another project that I am helping out with (see the Stove’s project blog What constitutes ‘the community’ within a place in 21st century Scotland? How can you truly engage with a group of people and to what end? Define engagement.

Origami boats in abundance when the Stove landed in Wigtown Primary last week


Engagement noun (begin fighting)


[C or U] specialised the act of beginning to fight someone, or a period trim time in a war. [?]


hopefully not..


“Island elders [..] in North Uist spoke of the disconnection of the young from the places, local knowledge, languages and traditions that give meaning and practical guidance – ‘stiùir’ – in their lives. In our cities we’re all implicated in the disconnection between the production of energy and our squandering of it, between the waste we generate and its continuing presence elsewhere, between our economics and our ethics, between the young and any prospects that might draw them into a sense of responsibility, engagement and agency.” (From an article by Ruth Little here


As my work in Kirkcudbright starts to feel more like a ‘residency’ the need to connect what I am doing more closely with the place (and consequently the community) that I am working in is becoming more pronounced. The need for stand-alone art is being over run with a need to place the work within my own context. I am scheming…  

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