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A movement for Village Hosts?

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Text by Massimo Menichinelli & image by Elena Elizondo (Elisava, Barcelona School of Design and Engineering – UVic-UCC).

Individual initiatives

How could Village Hosts improve their initiatives? How could Village Hosts be recognized as both a new job and a potential alternative? How could Village Hosts have a positive and relevant impact?

These issues can be addressed from several perspectives, here I would like to stress something we’ve already been discussing internally in the projects and with village hosts: how to become a movement. Or rather: how to move from 1) individual initiatives to 2) community of practice to 3) a movement. Right now, most of the Village Hosts initiatives found are mainly individual initiatives or small group initiatives: individuals or group of people who’d like or decided to change their lifestyle and have an impact in their own locality. But for improving their practice, be recognized and have a larger impact, hosts should move beyond the individual and small group dimension.

A community

First of all, Village Hosts should network among themselves and become a Community of Practice[i], a pan-European (global?) large scale online community of practitioners discussing what they do and how to improve it. While a Community of Interest would only discussed a shared topic, a Community of Practice is about practitioners discussing non only a shared interested but also a shared practice. In such a community, slowly newcomers will join discussion and with time reach the core of the community by engaging with more experienced hosts, considering that typically, in an online community 1% of users actively produce most of the content, 9% produce some content and engage in discussions and 90% only observe – the 1% rule of thumb. That is, not everyone will engage in the same way at the same time, but we can support everyone in slowly getting more experienced and engaged. A community here is important for creating connections, sharing information, providing support, and improving all activities. The Community and Forum sections in the OSVH Platform were created for this!

A movement

But a community does not necessarily move toward a common goal. It could be just about discussing and helping each other, and nothing more, meaning that maybe this could be enough for village hosts. Are our Village Hosts initiatives enough? Are Village Hosts recognized as both a new job and a potential alternative? Do Village Hosts have a positive and relevant impact? Can Village Hosts work without the support of policy makers and public institutions? If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, then maybe we need something more… maybe a movement. We need thus that all (or, most) of village hosts, are 1) aligned on the same goals, 2) with an organization and 3) with specific joint activities for reaching those goals. But which kind of movement?[ii]

  1. Alternative movement: self-improvement changes in individuals;
  2. Reform movement: change of something specific about the social structure;
  3. Religious/redemptive movement: change or spiritual growth in individuals;
  4. Resistance movement: preventing or undoing change to the social structure;
  5. Revolutionary movement: completely changing every aspect of society.

Real-life movements tend to be a mix of these, so the Village Hosts movement could discuss how to be organized, but also if the focus will still be on individuals or on the social structure. Furthermore, let’s not forget that social movements have their own life cycle[iii]: 1) emergence, 2) coalescence, 3) bureaucratization, and 4) decline. Village Hosts are probably in the first step (emergence), or more likely even before that. This is a reminder that a movement must be built and nurtured, it doesn’t start automatically and doesn’t work magically without efforts and organization and, also very importantly, that once the goals are reached the movement might end. Let’s then discuss about which goals a Village Hosts movement would like to reach! Ultimately, it is up to village hosts to discuss and choose whether they just want to focus on their own individual initiatives, or on becoming a community for extended support or growing to a movement for larger scale impact. There is no automatic recipe for all of these, just a reminder that with larger scale, more collaboration and advanced organization Village Hosts could improve what they do and how not only among themselves but also with society at large.

[i] Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger, Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation (Cambridge University Press, 1991), Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation; Linda C. Li et al., “Evolution of Wenger’s Concept of Community of Practice,” Implementation Science 4, no. 1 (March 1, 2009): 11,

[ii] David Aberle, The Peyote Religion Among The Navaho, 1st ed. (Chicago: Aldine, 1966).

[iii] Jonathan Christiansen, “Four Stages of Social Movements,” in Sociology Reference Guide: Theories of Social Movements, 2nd Ed., ed. The Editors of Salem Press, 2nd edition (Ipswich, Massachusetts: Salem Press, 2016), 14–25.

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