Life in Community
Life in and out of community offers valuable lessons about governance, membership, vision, struggles, and deepening connections.
A veteran of Washington, DC’s Sojourners Community reflects on wisdom her group gleaned from Central Americans and from one another.
At Acorn, as in the larger world, the most important thing to be able to afford may be giving something away.
Chronic illness presents challenges but also gifts of insight to a long-time communitarian.
A community pioneer and activist shares her stories.
An older generation learns to let go as a younger generation steps forward.
Two community founders recognize that it’s time to hand over the reins and move on.
Endings and beginnings grow from one another and make personal and group renewal possible.
Marking endings and beginnings with ritual can add intentionality, understanding, and connection to our lives.
Children in outdoor programs face—and often overcome—three major obstacles to learning and growth.
Questioning her community’s philosophy and practices, a live-in caregiver ends her involvement there in order to focus on greater self-expression and self-care.
For the health of our species and the planet, we need ecovillages.
By learning necessary physical skills, these ecovillagers transcend the limitations of their middle-class educations.
In Ithaca, New York, a pioneering project continues to break new ground in ecological design, education, and community.
Innovative ecovillagers turn challenges into opportunities.
A longtime ecovillage activist moves beyond denial to recognize the institutional racism affecting not only her society and her community, but her own way of thinking.
When a member of a minority population claims racism, how does a group committed to racial nondiscrimination respond?
If we are truly committed to diversity, we need to stop labeling people who hold religious ideas unlike our own as “cultists,” and start practicing the tolerance we preach.
What happens if, despite all outer appearances, one finds one’s worldview radically different from the mainstream?
To create a thriving, diverse community, we need to learn how to host and integrate new people in ways that support them as multi-dimensional human beings.
This Hollywood movie offers both surprising insight and fond parody while taking viewers far from the beaten path, into the world of intentional community.
Ritual can connect us more deeply to place, mark the passages of our lives,
comfort us in times of grief, and link us in the pure joy of celebration. It
works best when created collectively.
Even “non-spiritual” groups can benefit through a multitude of simple practices that deepen participants’ connections with themselves, one another, and the sacred.
If you haven’t heard of hollow earth theory, zig-zag-and-swirl, B-FICs, or
bathing bans, you’ve missed out on some of the more distinctive contributions
of communal spirituality.
The former Elderhostel coordinator at Holy Cross Monastery explores
personal and monastic history to explain her unlikely presence there.
To these communitarians, all work was holy—but overwhelmed by “the
accumulating weight of such holiness” and other disappointments, they
eventually adjust their aspirations.
A journey through various flavors of spiritually eclectic community brings
us face to face with cursed seeds, the White Brotherhood Team, mystery,
A dancer’s year at Currents community opens and transforms both her and the group.
At New View Cohousing, practicing consensus, navigating illness, and simply
sharing lives are continuing spiritual exercises.
In a world in which food choices
and dietary preferences can
lactic-acid fermentation wins
a new convert.
While expert at understanding ecological connections, permaculturalists often founder in relating with one another. Applying permaculture principles to group dynamics can help us work together more effectively.
An organic farming volunteer learns surprising new lessons from his Argentinian hosts—such as how to relax, how to enjoy practical labor, and how to contribute more sustainably by putting personal work first.
After a painful period stranded in “permaculture heaven,” an Earthaven founder finds her community finally moving back towards balance with its eco-spiritual roots.
By reducing our economic impact, we can shrink our ecological footprint, while freeing up time and energy to contribute to community and a more sustainable world.
To the Compostmeister at a collective house, the cycles of compost embody a new economics that focuses upon human needs and relationships.
Overcoming her resistance to waking up at 5 a.m., a veteran community seeker learns transformative lessons at Deer Park Monastery.
When a cohousing group's honeymoon ends, and economic stress dictates selling units to any willing buyers, can a community's core values and connections endure?
In the author’s first, very intense intentional community immersion, revealing the truth led to love and intimacy. He left that group, but, in many spheres of life, emotional and intellectual honesty became his religion.
Relationships don’t exist in a vacuum. Through a culture of communication and support, communities can create the healthy container which relationships need in order to flourish.
A starter marriage, a spouse’s health crisis, and the small details that define each person shed light on the meaning of intimacy.
After a journey from nuclear family life through student coops, an ecovillager finds rich opportunities for intimacy, in many diverse forms—not just with lovers and family.
Women’s Empowerment Circles offer community-within-community, building trust, caring, and mutual support.
Do you think a half-century-old book on proper “womanhood,” much of whose advice is guaranteed to cause feminists to scream out in indignation, has nothing to teach us? Think again.
Despite widespread desire for community, structural and cultural obstacles to intentional community in the modern world loom large.
The author recounts his personal history with the “mentally ill”—social misfits who can show us the way to a better world, if they are allowed to make the journey.
Both healthy ideas and unhealthy ideas can take hold and spread like viruses. Suicidal tendencies and eating disorders provide invaluable lessons to one communitarian.
With loving help from others, the old emotional distresses that can sabotage both our mental health and our relationships in community can be cleared and permanently resolved.
To make best use of nonviolent communication and co-counseling, avoid these traps.
Ex-members of the Emissaries of Divine Light reflect on their shared past and discover more holistic approaches to inner wellness as they reunite online.
How can we best support mental health? Caring attention—even from amateurs—can promote healing unattainable through impersonal approaches or drugs.
Living in community can provide all the elements necessary for promoting mental well-being, from kinship and useful work to recreation and beauty.
Ten European ecovillages show the way to a brighter future.
Community can be balm for the discomforts of aging, just as elders’ wisdom and caring can soothe the growing pains of youth.
After confronting an identity crisis worthy of adolescence, a 65-year-old finds a new home in community and discovers that elderhood is a blessing, not a curse.
A disenchanted community founder leaves her group, and finds that her rural hometown farming community and international travel and service better match her vision of honorable elderhood.
For many baby boomers, taking on the mantle of eldership means transforming the sometimes rambunctious, in-your-face, empowerment-obsessed energy they worked so hard to sustain.
Howling, shouting, cries of despair, and The Pierced One greet a parent on her first visit to her daughter’s adopted community. Luckily, through lots of talking and listening, things improve.
The founder of Enright Ridge Urban Ecovillage describes what it’s like to be criticized, marginalized, stripped of leadership responsibilities, and given the opportunity to explore a new role.
In a healthy community, leadership and followship are equally important roles, each with vital skill sets that can assure effective teamwork.
The author identifies additional leadership skills, cautions against blind followship, and reflects on the many types of power in cooperative groups.
A community member transcends a feeling of powerlessness when he inadvertently comes up with a brilliant idea about how to organize cooking groups, and others join him in implementing it.
Some saw this radical environmental education program as a “cult,” others as an intensely focused experience of challenge and growth. Had participants lost their individuality, or gained a new sense of self?
The residents of an eco-oriented, education-focused intentional community and demonstration site wear many hats, both public and private.
Strained by difficult economic and ecological conditions, farmers Claudio and Fernando discover new avenues toward prosperity and land restoration through alliances with a peace community dedicated to regional renewal.
After several years teaching about community in the abstract, an anthropologist and environmental studies teacher finds that direct student engagement with intentional communities provides the spark needed for personal inspiration, connection, and the potential for social transformation.
Four very different father figures help guide a communitarian son into adulthood, as he combines distinctive traits of each.
Though “baby having” had not been a consensus decision, a small community embraces a newborn, survives his infancy, and bonds like any other family: doing each other’s dishes, snuggling on the couch, and fighting over who gets a shower before the hot water runs out.
Twelve-year-old Jibran has always lived with fuzzy boundaries between “family” and “community.” They became even fuzzier when he came home to discover his mom’s positive pee test.
A mother responds to empty-nest syndrome by discovering her new family in community.
What do Hopi Indians, John Keats, lost loves, intentional community, and family have in common? For better or worse, they’ve combined to befuddle, enlighten, dismay, and inspire our author.
Reviews of two great books on community living, one on life in a convent with surprising insights even for the most secular, and one on the history of utopian experiments in Oregon.
At a permaculture-based ecovillage in North Carolina, care for the earth, care for people, and care for inner health all benefit from a dynamic culture based on local self-reliance, holism, and community.
A community rallies in support of a long-time member diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, discovering opportunities and possibilities for new connections with each other and becoming more present to the priceless experiences of both living and dying.
Both in traditional cultures and at La’akea, close loving relationships, consistent community connection, a life close to nature, fresh non-processed food, satisfying work, regular exercise, clean air and water, attunement to biological rhythms, joy, and laughter all support health.
Noise and quiet can both affect well-being profoundly. Gordon Hempton’s One Square Inch of Silence offers ear-opening stories and perspectives, practical suggestions, and simple, radical wisdom.
An ex-resident of Casa Caballeros reflects on the wealth she found in the realms of personal growth, shared resources, spontaneous celebration, and financial freedom even in economic downturns.
With a long history of protecting the local watershed, Trillium Farm Community in southern Oregon grows not only organic food, but ecological activists.
After living in the PRAG House collective for 25 years before running for office, a Seattle City Councilor recommends that anyone entering politics consider experiencing intentional community first.
An informal survey raises several compelling questions: Can communitarians
learn to focus on larger-scale politics as much as on internal politics? Should they? What’s proper political etiquette in community? And have you ever met a communitarian who is not left of center?
Mollie Curry hoists a chainsaw and finds herself entangled in a perplexing webs of sticky questions. Here she attempts to untangle the threads, both within herself and within her community.
We asked 50 communitarians about attitudes about beauty in their communities. Did they value aesthetics in their buildings and landscape? Would they trade environmental or economic needs for beauty? their answers may surprise you.
Communities magazine asks interns, work exchangers, and residential course participants what they think of us. Do our programs deliver what our websites promise? Are they comfortably housed and fed? Do we treat them well?
Jules Pelican of OAEC in northern California examines the mutual influence of interns and community members. Is it painful to invest emotional energy in people who will soon leave? Does living in community, even temporarily, nevertheless benefit people?
Natural building teacher Mark Mazziotti looks at how what could have been a stellar intern program went awry.