Thursday, 11 August 2011

A sense of community

As chance would have it three of our last five hosts have been Intentional Communities. An Intentional Community is a place where people have come together deliberately to join other people with some shared ideals, though they may be quite loosely held together.

Each of the communities has been markedly different. My impressions of them range through being of relaxed disorganisation, or very organised but wilfully inefficient or efficient and well organised. All have been very friendly and may tempt us back for slightly longer stays in the future.

I had previously ruled out community living due to my prejudice about decision making and just wanting to get on with things. Whilst working I attended too many unproductive meetings where advice was not taken, or consensus not reached. I really thought concensus decision making would drive me mad, but it doesn't seem too bad. Urgent things do seem to be done, but examples of things taking months to reach agreement on were plenty and would be difficult to live with. I think all the communities had non official ways of preventing someone blocking a decision without good cause more than once.

The many benefits to community living that we saw included shared workload, being able to have holidays whilst livestock are still tended to, not feeling isolated, sharing childcare. Also sharing great meals and not having to cook every night. At Crabapple they ate communally every evening, and most nights we were there it was a banquet. At Canon Frome the members booked us for a morning or afternoon and generally fed us lunch or dinner after the work. Again all the food was great, with the majority from the farm. Not having to cook evening meals was very productive for us, especially as most of the time the children were playing with other children or asking other adults lots of interesting questions.

What I have taken out of spending time in Intentional Communities is that I like the sense of community but without all the complications of communal decision making.

I think what we would like is an old fashioned street/village feel as one friend in Calderdale is trying to create and another friend in Haworth already has. We just want a few acres of land to go with it!

There is a lot more to Intentional Communities, have a look at the Diggers and Dreamers website to find out more.


  1. We feel the same way about communal living. To have your own space & to be able to close the door now & again is good.

    Having visited communities & tried living in a house with another family - we think it's important to keep your family's identity. It's great to share the chores & have time with other adults, but we found our family life changed & we couldn't always do what we wanted to do.

    It's not easy, but I do find it fascinating...

    Love the street idea!

    Kay :)

  2. Hmm, I think I completly agree with you on your take on communities - an intentional neighbourhood. Just enough done together to provide support when and where needed but not so much in each other's pockets you get bogged down with meetings etc etc(or get on each others wick too much either). Just need to find enough people who want the same level of community as you do, then find somewhere with buildings and land or try to fight the planning office (or hide for 4 years in a house no one has found) Easy really ......Hah!

  3. Thanks for your comments, it is nice when people agree with an idea. When you spend time in a community they quickly try to find out if you want to join them, and sometimes you feel bad about saying it isn't quite right for you. Then explaining why is always interesting, though everyone has been nice about it so far!

  4. Fascinating! We now have three ICs in Milwaukee-- an ecovillage, a yoga cooperative and an artist cooperative. I just wrote about the latter:

    They are coming up everywhere!