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A Word From The Author


marv photo I am a man on a mission. My mission is to revitalize community for myself and everyone I can reach. Half a lifetime ago, in my work as a psychotherapist, I realized that many of the people who came to see me would not have been in my office if they had experienced and were still embedded in a strong, supportive circle of people. As a young father and professional, I began to recognize that this rich circle was missing in my own life as well. At the same time, I began to realize that some people seemed to have a knack for surrounding themselves with people and creating intimacy, abilities I lacked.

I also shared the growing sense of distress that many feel about what our modern world is doing to our humanity. It was obvious that our sense of community was being seriously eroded in our headlong race into a future of modern wonders. I have watched from my comfortable place in the Western world as we've lived through the greatest technological leap forward the human race had ever taken: a leap both exciting and promising, like nothing before in history, but with a price. I grew up in a traditional, strong extended family that had just migrated into the city from the farm culture upon which America was built. My family shared the farm values of hard work and of community. Babies were born at home and the old folks died in each other's arms. Life was hard, but regardless of what happened a strong circle of community always supported everyone. Even though I had not learned the skills necessary to create such a community for myself, I saw firsthand the power it could hold in leading a rich life.

As a young man, just launched into a career in the space program, I found myself suddenly caught up in technical, hurry-hurry, modern America. It was not long before I recognized that something was missing. I had to find a way to balance this new exciting world with the strong sense of community in which I had grown up.

This need started as confusion as I experienced the collision between our humanity and the pressures of modern life. Then it turned into alarm as I became aware of current problems in the context of the history I was studying. Most of the people I talked with saw the same problems, but they tended to respond either by ignoring them or by complaining. I decided I was going to apply what I knew from my community-based childhood to improve the quality of life for myself, my family, and the people around me. I realized that to do less would simply be adding to the problems that worried me. Eventually I left my career as an engineer and studied to become a social worker.

My growing awareness of the necessity for vital communities led to what has become a burning passion over the last thirty years. It was urgent that I find a way to think about personal communities and develop a way to strengthen them. I closely studied the communal dimensions in my work as an organizational consultant and psychotherapist, and I explored the back alleys of our culture at every level, watching people on the streets, in malls, in classrooms, in business settings, in the halls of government. I studied anthropology, sociology, the world's religions, and depth psychology. I poured over all the literature written about community and immersed myself in both current affairs and history.

My efforts eventually gave me a way to think about personal community and allowed me to develop a body of material that anyone can use to create a supportive cast for themselves. Before I could write about the topic of personal community, my earlier engineering training impelled me to develop a theory about all community systems, from the most immediate to those of every level of society and even to the entire global community. What started out as a single book about personal community has turned into a series of books that I am driven to write. I identify with George Bernard Shaw when he said: "I want to be thoroughly used up when I die. The harder I work, the more I live. Life is no brief candle to me. It is a splendid torch which I want to make burn as brightly as I can before I pass it on to following generations." What I learned taught me how to surround myself with a strong circle of people. The professionals called this immediate circle a personal network or convoy. I came to call it my personal village. The first in my series of books is about how to create community at the most immediate, personal level. You are holding that book in your hand.

What I will describe in this book is not a one-time effort. Just like caring for your health or finances or career, your personal village will require continual attention and tending. Community is not a simple process like throwing a party or changing the tires on a car. It is not a step-by-step process like baking cookies. It does not have a beginning or an end. Like the quest to know God, community can be embraced in many ways and approached from many directions simultaneously. I have tried in this book to show you many of the levels on which you can enhance your own circle of important people. This book will not cover everything you need to know, but it will get you started. It will change your life for the better and improve the lives of those around you.

Enjoy Personal Village. You now have a roadmap to creating and revitalizing your own personal community.

May you blossom fully. May your loved ones blossom fully, and may everyone living on Mother Earth blossom fully to the ultimate that is our human heritage. May every person come into perfect harmony with their highest self and with each other.
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PERSONAL VILLAGE® is a registered trademark owned by Marv Thomas.
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