I wrote in my piece on Communities of Communities about what was happening in Louisa County, Virginia, and in Rutledge, Missouri. In Louisa there are five income sharing communities (plus a nearby Catholic Worker house) and in Rutledge there are three very different types of communities–and a fourth (different again) community only forty miles away. In both of these areas, the different communities strongly support each other. They flourish not in spite of one another but because of one another. I’ve been at Twin Oaks and watched folks from Acorn, Living Energy Farm, and Cambia come by, and been at
Dancing Rabbit and seen folks from Red Earth Farms and Sandhill hang out. (Not to mention being at Acorn and working with folks from Twin Oaks and Little Flower–the Catholic Worker community.)
But I’m seeing connections growing between communities that aren’t even near one another. I’m currently living at Ganas (not an egalitarian, income sharing community) which has a long history with Twin Oaks. I joke about a conveyor belt between the two communities (300 miles from each other) because so many people go back and forth so often. What’s interesting to me has been watching another ‘conveyor’ belt starting up between Acorn in Virginia and East Wind in Missouri as members of each community began spending serious time in the other one.
Then there’s a Federation of Egalitarian Communities and last year’s Assembly featured a host of starting communities. The FEC exists partly to support and network egalitarian, income sharing communities. Similarly, this blog exists to feature them–not only to make people aware that they exist and how many and diverse they are, but to keep communes aware of each other.
Most importantly, as David from las Indias argued in his post called On Diversity, the greater diversity that we seek is likely to come not so much within communities, but among communities. He talks directly about the need to network our communities.
Going back to Louisa, Twin Oaks has a 100 members. That’s a lot and many members are resistant to growing more. Acorn has thirty members and doesn’t want much more because, as one person put it, they don’t want to become Twin Oaks. But now there’s
three more communities down there, trying to grow and new people are often encouraged to investigate them. Telos has written about why he decided to leave Twin Oaks in order to help build Cambia.
What we are talking about here is not just having a few alternative communities, but slowly creating a movement. As we help create more and more communes (through projects like Point A) and network them, we are creating a real alternative to the situation we are inheriting. With networks of income sharing communities, we are not only talking about a few communities in the US, or even North America (and there are a couple of Canadian communities in dialogue with the FEC), but throughout the world, as we connect with communities in Spain and Germany–and maybe the kibbutzim and other communes throughout the world. There is already a Global Ecovillage Network and the Fellowship of Intentional Communities is busy connecting diverse communities from communes to urban co-op houses to large cohousing projects. Communities matter and as we begin to connect with each other and network together, we are creating that movement.
It’s certainly not the way I think everyone should live, but I do think there are a lot of people who might be interested in living this way if they knew it was possible. Twin Oaks has a waiting list again, and I suspect Acorn and other communities do as well, and that makes me realize that there’s a lot more interest in the communities than there is space in them. The Atlantic magazine just published a piece on people looking at communes because they’re “Seeking an Escape from Trump’s America“. I only think that in these times, the movement is going to grow. As I said in my first piece on this blog, I think that communes are important. I think that it’s equally important to network and grow. This is true social change.