Page 6 - C.A.L.L. #29 - Winter 2007
P. 6

Following the successful ICSA Conference this summer in Italy, we
                                         commissioned  both  the  outgoing  and  incoming  presidents,
                                         Emeritus  Professor  Dennis  Hardy  and  Professor  Michal  Palgi
                                         respectively, to write exclusively for C.A.L.L.

             Communities and a Changing Agenda

             The  International  Communal  Studies  Association  (ICSA)  is  alive  and  well!    At  the  end  of  June,
             members gathered for the latest in its series of international conferences.  This time the location
             was the beautiful Val Chiusella, in the foothills of the Italian Alps to the north of Turin, where ICSA
             enjoyed the warm hospitality of the well-established Damanhur community.  As well as a unique
             opportunity to meet like-minded enthusiasts from around the world, the event offered a rich mix
             of reflective  papers and community practice.  An additional attraction was a post-conference visit
             to an inspirational eco-village, Torri Superiore, as well as to some more traditional examples of
             Italian community living.

             On a personal note, the conference marked the end of my tenure as President of the Association
             and I am delighted to welcome Professor Michal Palgi as the incoming holder of this office.  It was
             a privilege to serve as President and I'd like to share a few thoughts on the experience.

             Firstly, ICSA has now been in existence for 22  years and it seemed timely at Damanhur to ask
             whether the organisation still has a meaningful role.  This was discussed by the ICSA Board and,
             while it is recognised that the nature of community issues changes over time, the rationale for a
             body  that  straddles  theory  and  practice  in  this  way  and  whose  remit  crosses  international
             boundaries remains as powerful as ever.  Regular conferences of the sort that were held this past
             summer continue to serve a valuable purpose for scholars, practitioners and policy-makers alike.

             Secondly, if ICSA is to remain relevant and attract new members, changing priorities need to be
             recognised  and  accommodated  by  the  Association.    At  Damanhur,  the  traditional  core  of  ICSA
             interests  was  well  represented,  with  challenging  papers  on  historical  communities,  on  the  still
             evolving story of the kibbutz movement, on the significance of contemporary experiments and on
                                                           some of the practical aspects of community living.
                                                           As  well  as  this  traditional  fare,  there  was  also  a
                                                           strong  and  welcome  presence  of  'eco-villagers',
                                                           who  see  in  communities  a  natural  ally  in  the
                                                           current search for sustainable lifestyles.

                                                           Thirdly,  reflecting  the  dynamism  of  communities
                                                           themselves, it is vital that the ICSA membership is
                                                           itself constantly revitalised.  It is a sign of strength
                                                           that  many  of  the  founding  members  are  still
                                                           leading lights in the organisation but no less is it
                                                           important  that  a  new  generation  becomes  more
             involved.  At Damanhur it was encouraging to see so many new faces and it is to be hoped that
             many of these will, in time, define new directions for ICSA.

             Finally,  the  next  conference,  in  2010,  will  be  held  in  Israel,  coinciding  with  the  centenary
             anniversary of the foundation of the first kibbutz.  This is a fitting location, if only because the
             kibbutz represents arguably the most important communal experiment in modern times.  It is also
             fitting because of the opportunity it will offer to demonstrate how communal values can transcend
             political divisions and cultural conflicts, and chart a way forward that is no less relevant in our
             present century than it has proved in the past.

             Emeritus Professor Dennis Hardy
             ICSA Past President, 2004-2007

                                                            6 6 6 6
   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11