Sunday, July 12, 2009


This is a subject I've posted on early and often. I've done posts on Communities and Cooperatives (10/6/08), Intentional Communities (10/8/08), Communes and Communism (10/10/08), Egalitarian Communities (10/22/08), Community and Individuality (11/27/08), and Utopian Communities and New Religious Groups (in the nineteenth century--on 1/25/09). And when I'm not focusing on communities in a post, I will often end by suggesting that community is part of the answer to whatever the problem is (see, for example, my posts of 5/28/09 and 6/6/09). I think part of my reason is that this society is so focused on individualism and making it on our own that we need community to balance this out.

I think that community is a real need in any society but in this society, where an emphasis on 'have it your way' and 'do your own thing' just creates isolation, people are sometimes desperate for it. And creating community isn't easy to do. (Often I look at advertisements for very idiosyncratic, precisely described communities and I am not surprised to find out at the end of the description that the current population of the community is one person--or sometimes two, including a persuaded partner.) One of my common comments is that you need people to build community.

I know. I am currently searching for people to build community here in New England--and navigating that balance between defining it so broadly that it won't really meet my needs and defining it so tightly that no one else would want to live in it. The last intentional community I lived in fell apart when a few members moved out and we couldn't find people who wanted to join us.

The other balance in my life is between looking for a more intentional community and trying to create community with the people I am currently living with. There are degrees of community, and certainly we could all live at least a little more communally--even if you live alone, you can get to know your neighbors and find people that you can share resources with.

Between our own ingrained individualism and the constant reinforcing of the rugged individualism of this society, it's not surprising that it's hard to create community. But the need is there, and if we can listen to each other and commit to working through the inevitable conflicts, community truly is possible.

Diana Leafe Christian, Creating a Life Together--A source book on creating community (the subtitle is "Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities") by a long-time editor of Communities magazine
Diana Leafe Christian, Finding Community--A handbook for the community seeker; how to research, visit and evaluate intentional communities
Debora Hogeland, Widening the Circle--Stories of community living by someone who has lived that way for over seventeen years
Eric Raimy, Shared Houses, Shared Lives--More than a bit outdated, this book looks at co-op houses as a kind of "middle-class commune"; does have information on conflict, chores, and house meetings (the nitty-gritty of living together)
Carolyn R. Shaffer and Kristin Anundsen, Creating Community Anywhere--Looks at all kinds of community, including intentional community

For additional resources, see my posts on Communal and Cooperative Resources (10/12/08) and Intentional Communities (10/8/08)

Quote of the Day: "We have all known the long loneliness, and we have found that the answer is community." - Dorothy Day (Thank you, Robyn, for this quote!)