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How do we build community in “vertical villages”?

People can often experience loneliness and fragmentation in urban contexts. This is due to the nature of cities as places of diversity and transience. It can leave inhabitants of such places feeling a lack of connection to the place where they live. This is even more true as we see people moving into high rise settings where community-building can be more difficult. These high rises known as “vertical villages”, can make people feel more isolated from others and not know their neighbours. So how do we build community in “vertical villages”?

The Vertical Villages project decided to look into this

The research conducted in 2020 by a team of researchers at Macquarie University explored the role and potential of FBOs (faith-based orgainsations) to facilitate placemaking and community development in multicultural high-rise/high-density urban environments. The report engages with international and Australian-based literature on high density living, place-making, faith-based organisations, social mix and urban design.

A toolkit will become available soon offering resources for anyone wanting to build community in apartment complexes.

Neighbourhood Matters contributed a paper to the toolkit. This will be published soon but for now, here’s the introduction to the paper. You might find it helpful if you are interested in building community in high density areas.

A theology of building resilient communities in vertical villages: the role of churches and faith-based organisations

As Australia’s population grows and governments sell land for development, more and more people are living in high-rise towers. Developers often promote these buildings and estates as ‘communities’ and ‘villages’, however in most cases there is little if any strategy in place to live up to these ideals. The Vertical Villages Project “explores people’s experiences of living in multicultural high-rise, mix-tenure and high-density urban environments”. As part of that project, this paper explores ways in which local churches and Christian faith-based organisations can partner with communities in vertical villages to build resilience. We start by exploring the idea of resilience and the role of social capital in bonding people together within groups and bridging them between different groups. We look at the challenges and opportunities of building resilient communities in vertical villages and briefly look at successful models. We ask what specific contribution churches and faith-based organisations can make in this space. We then suggest five theological concepts that relate to the idea of resilience – community, shalom, incarnation, creation care and place – and how these concepts can motivate and inform churches and faith-based organisations as they partner with vertical villages to build resilient communities. Finally we provide some spiritual practices and practical tools to help you get started on the journey, followed by some check-in questions and practical suggestions.