elearnspace points to an article by David Wilcox, Ladder of Participation now available online. That further points to an updated version of the Ladder itself. This ladder describes how people participate in society, from not at all to full empowerment. In relation to a number of recent conversations, the idea of how people participate in their communities is at the front of my mind. I was hoping this ladder would shed some direct light, but instead it gives me a little more illumination on a fuzzy area of understanding for me.
In any community, there is a wide range of people who participate, and I frequently want to think that only the most outwardly active people are the "real" community. However, it is becoming clearer to me that it takes more than just the vocal few to build a community. There must be mutual and enduring interest in the topic, whether it is attempts to save elm trees or a community about knowledge management, it is people that make up the community. Sure, there are buildings and cafe's, but without people inhabiting them, there isn't going to be much happening. And those people take on a wide variety of roles within the community, depending on their level (ladder) of interest and their capabilities.