by Paxus, Raven, and GPaul
In the beginning of 2014, some communards from Virginia got to talking about where the income sharing community movement needed to go. There were then four communes in Louisa county. (There are now five.) While the ecosystem here was exciting and alluring, there was a call to try something grander and much harder.
At this point we felt confident in our ability to start income sharing communities in rural areas, especially if there were neighboring existing communities to help them through rough spots and growing pains.
And while the movement had some urban examples, predominantly we had chosen places in the country where inexpensive land prices, relaxed zoning, the easy ability to grow food and the allure of a slower paced life made our efforts more accessible.
However, the world’s population is more and more living in cities and that’s where the real challenge for commune creation seemed to be. We started the Point A project to begin building income sharing communities in cities on the east coast of the United States. And despite Paxus’s aversion to mission statements we created one for the project:
To create a community that:
- Inspires and supports high achievement by the community and its members.
- Propagates itself by spinning off new communities.
- Balances the success of the community with the mandate to radically transform and improve the world.
In the two and half years since we started, we have succeeded in creating a community in DC which holds these values and are working through several cities in the northeastern US to start more income sharing communities.
The cities where we are working include:
- Baltimore MD
- Washington DC
- Newark NJ
- Long Island City (Queens) NY
- Binghamton NY
We want to focus on the last three places for this article, all of them in the vague vicinity of NYC.
This is a group in the Newark, NJ, area that is creating a multi-ethnic, multi-generational community that supports families and focuses on food justice, low-energy living, natural building, and continual waste reduction. Point A has done workshops for them and taken several of the members to see the income sharing communities in Virginia. The group hopes to build a confederacy of ecological egalitarian communities.
Smiling Hogshead Ranch
SHHR is on a piece of land in Queens owned by the MTA (the transit system of New York City). Although it started as a guerrilla gardening project, the land is now leased from the MTA and there is the possibility of more land. Food is being grown there and there is a major composting operation creating more soil. Point A has become involved because some of the people involved with the Ranch are considering building an income-sharing community nearby and thinking about using the Ranch and resources as part of their income generation. This project appeals to folks that are interested in urban agriculture.
The Genome Collective is a household in Binghamton, NY, that focuses on growing, gathering, and sharing food. When they found out about income sharing, they became interested in it, and Point A has visited there a couple of times to help them think about income sharing and to work with the group to explore relationships. The collective has become excited about the tools Point A often works with: consensus, the clearness process, and transparency tools.
- NYC Community Matchmaking Conferences
In August 2014, and then in March 2015, we organized public events designed to connect individuals looking for community with folks from the metro area who were interested in living more collectively. Between 60 and 80 people attended these events which had considerable content. They also had the desired networking effect and helped launch at least one community.
- Commune Life Blog
The same folks working for Point A and writing this article (Paxus, GPaul, and Raven) are the people who bring you this blog. The point of Point A is to spread the movement of egalitarian, income sharing communities and this blog is another avenue to do that. (However, unlike Point A which focuses on urban efforts, this blog seeks to document all egalitarian, income sharing communities regardless of location.)
- The Wilson Lab Community Mental Health Study
Up in Binghamton, Point A has gotten involved with David Sloan Wilson, a professor at Binghamton University, and his grad students. Prof. Wilson and his crew are studying intentional communities in order to explore what makes a healthy group and how a healthy group helps create healthy individuals and healthy societies. We are partnering with them to facilitate access to the communes in hopes of understanding ourselves and our communities better. So far they have gathered evidence that members of intentional communities have better mental health than the general population. An intriguing beginning but there is more work to do.
Point A intends to keep going. There are more cities on the east coast and more projects to do. This is just the beginning.