On Sunday, June 27, 2010 I made a presentation on Community Living to a small group of Pioneering Souls who gathered in my home. We decided we wanted to continue to meet to start creating a closer knit community among ourselves. I also see us as a welcoming hub for anyone seeking to grow personally and spiritually who wants to explore community living in whatever form best fulfills their heart and soul’s desires.
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What follows is the general overview of the multi-dimensional arena of community living and a listing of resources for further investigation that I presented to the group. Once you begin exploring the concept of community living you find the choices to be beyond what you ever could have imagined!
There are two broad categories of community living: cohousing and communal
Cohousing is more for people who want to have their own private living space, (house, apartment, condo) while also sharing common facilities and participating in neighborly connections. The economics of a Cohousing community is similar to living on your own. Your income is yours, and so is your mortgage. The community may share some resources like cars or tools, and they share community activities, but each person is responsible for their own livelihood and their financial contribution to the shared facilities and activities. It is usually less expensive than living on your own, but it is not usually substantially less than living on your own. The main objective is the value of community.
Communal Living covers a continuum of financial arrangements that range from 100% income and chore sharing, to a core group of people who run the place and rent out rooms to people who want to have the advantages of communal living without the responsibility of chore-sharing or the burden of income sharing, the advantage being lower living costs.
As you explore different communities you will find that each community develops their own system that works for their members.
Within these two broad categories are more narrowly defined categories:
Ecovillages are generally communities with a strong ecological focus.
Co-ops are generally communities that are expense sharing, often urban, shared housing communities. Many are focused on college students.
Off the Grid generally on land purchased by the community with the intention of being self sustaining.
Organizational structures include:
Example: Ananda Village, Nevada City, CA www.ExpandingLight.org
•Organizational, Top Down, Majority Rules
Example: Omega Institute for Holistic Studies http://eOmega.org
•Consensus Based where everyone must approve a change before it is made.
Example: Morehouse www.LafayetteMorehouse.com
Visions of Utopia is a 2 volume DVD produced by, and available from, Fellowship for Intentional Community www.ic.org
Volume I – 94 minutes
Gives an overview of 2500 years of shared living, and insights about what works and what doesn’t. Includes interviews of 7 communities
Volume II – 124 minutes
Consists of interviews with 11 communities
(So far) this is my vision of my ideal intentional community:
A community of pioneering souls on a path of conscious evolution that embraces diversity of people, customs and view points. What we have in common is a desire to transcend ego and victim consciousness. We recognize ourselves as co-creators of our lives. We value transparency, authenticity, integrity, accountability, allowing, and tend to focus on what is working and making it better, while letting what is not working dissolve from lack of attention.
We value humor, fun, and the full range of being human, including our sexuality in whatever form consenting adults find pleasurable that does not negatively impact non-consenting adults.
As I explore various communities these are some of the features I’ve encountered that I want in my community:
1. Consensus based. Nothing happens unless everyone agrees. The philosophy behind this is that in a small community, having even a few disgruntled people diminishes the happiness of everybody. My (admittedly untested) philosophy is that it is possible for everyone’s needs to be met, and no one has to sacrifice something important to them, as long as having everyone’s needs met is held as a desirable community value, and that every interested party is willing to keep thinking outside the box until an acceptable solution is reached. (Notice I said everyone’s needs can be met, not necessarily everyone’s wants, which is an important distinction.)
2. Living joyfully is important. No matter the task at hand, I’d like an underlying focus of “how much joy can we experience in accomplishing this task?” be part of the equation.
3. I am inspired by Lafayette More House community whose only rule is “don’t do anything you don’t want to do.” I’d like our community to agree that if one cannot give a whole-hearted “yes” to a request, they have the courage to say “no” rather than perform with resentment.
4. My ideal community supports a high-level of clear, non-judgmental communication skills. I like the Non-Violent Communication guidelines put forth by Marshall Rosenberg as a possible communication blueprint. It fosters a partnership approach to relationships as opposed to hierarchical relationships based on reward and punishment.
It is my opinion that we are in the midst of an evolutionary leap and the current economic situation marks and end of an era, rather than a recession from which we will recover. Most of the jobs that have left this country are not coming back. This is our opportunity to shape a new way of living that nourishes our hearts and souls and lets every person contribute according to what they passionately love to do. No more wage slave jobs to earn money to buy distractions to numb the heartache that comes from doing soul-sucking work eight or more hours a day, five or more days a week!
Besides, Earth’s resources are dwindling as population grows. Conserving and sharing resources is inevitable. History has shown that large populations of “have-nots” lead to revolution!
Once examined closely, the benefits of community living become, not only apparent, but desirable . . . imagine a community of people who love and care about you, who share your values, who need the gifts you have to share, and share their gifts with you that fulfills your needs.
Our task is to evolve in consciousness to the understanding that, at essence, we are all one, and what we do to others, we do to ourselves, and we darn well better learn how to get along!
Better Off, by Eric Brende — This book takes a look at the “simple life.” The question is posed “what is the least we need to achieve the most?” The answer will delight and entertain you. This book will cause you to seriously reconsider what you currently think of as “the good life.”
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver — The author and her family abandoned the industrial-food pipeline to live a rural life—vowing that, for one year, they’d only buy food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it. Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, this book will open your eyes in a hundred new ways to an old truth: You are what you eat.
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
What are your thoughts on community living? I would love to have you leave a comment below!
Love and light,