Irresistible Community Builders, LLC presents: Creating a Cornucopia of Community

By Tom Braford

How do we create the critical mass that it takes to establish breakthrough community?

Critical mass is the minimum amount of something required to start or maintain any project or venture.

There are 4 levels of critical mass in successful community building. When we achieve critical mass at one level, the next one becomes possible.

According to British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, there is a constant pattern that scales regularly by a factor of 3 each time, based on the necessary quality and quantity of relationships that we have with others. 

Based on Dunbar’s studies of other primates and then verified with human beings, and based on our biological capacity, to optimize this pattern we each need to have: 

  • 5 intimate relationships
  • 15 good friends
  • 50 close friends and 
  • 150 friends

In the case of successful cooperative community, this translates to:

  • A committed core group of 5 founders
  • A committed launching working group of 15 pioneers
  • Individual contiguous cohousing neighborhoods or co-op businesses of 50 mission-aligned adults for each organization at this scale, and
  • Ecovillage communities made up of 3 or 4 contiguous cohousing neighborhoods or co-op businesses of up to 50 adults each who are committed to achieving the overall ecovillage community mission.

Dunbar and others, especially those in the communities movement, have speculated that, with the inclusion of Dynamic Governance methodologies and other things that build trust across diverse communities, we may be able to expand our relationship bandwidth to include as many as 200 people. That would make it possible to maintain crosslinked networks of autonomous Ecovillages with similar missions.

Some, myself included, have speculated that this could lead to a breakthrough in causing the next level of human cultural evolution. One of the forms of that could conceivably include crosslinked networks of Net Positive Ecovillages and Green Business Parks. If you share such thoughts, we invite you to consider joining one of our teams.