Communes as Places of Refuge

by Raven Glomus

I already had the idea for this post when I received the email from the Foundation for Intentional Community.  The email was entitled, “Thinking of joining or starting a community during the pandemic?” It goes on to say, “In the weeks since the pandemic, we have seen a sharp uptick in people searching for ‘off-grid communities with openings 2020.’ Dealing with uncertainty and isolation, more and more people are planning for how they want to change their lives once it’s possible to move again. Suddenly, community and resiliency are top priorities.”

I have been telling far away friends that I live in a bubble here.  While we hear about the horrors of the coronavirus, we seldom go off of our farm and I live with eight other great people and we are all still working very hard doing the work that each of us wants to do.  In many ways, we are some of the least affected people during this pandemic.

It’s something that I would wish for everyone and, if that FIC email is any indication, there are definitely folks that are realizing that it is possible.  Unfortunately, as much as some people might love to join a commune right about now, none of the communes (including Glomus) want to see anyone at this time.  Twin Oaks and Acorn have reported folks trying to enter the property to join and they promptly chased them off. Communes don’t like unannounced visitors in the best of times, and absolutely don’t want anyone showing up now.

Sign at Twin Oaks

However, I don’t believe that this pandemic will last forever.  The communes will open up again to people willing to pursue the proper membership procedures.  Of course, some people may see communal living as less desirable once the pandemic is over. However, I think that this is very short sighted. 

With climate change increasing, with an ever more connected world, and with some very conservative folks in office who are willing to do increasingly more manipulative things to stay in office (look at the Wisconsin primary and the large number of other voter suppression and gerrymandering tactics being used), I believe that there will be more unpleasant situations ahead.  Living in a commune can’t absolutely protect you from all of them, but it can provide a buffer from some and it means whatever needs to be faced next, you will not need to face it alone.

The main house at Glomus in winter–or perhaps in a spring snow

The FIC letter suggests (and I agree) that this is an excellent time to study and search for what you want.  There are a lot of resources out there. The FIC website (ic.org) is an excellent place to begin, as is the FEC website (thefec.org).  Look through Commune Life. In the right hand corner above is a stack of three bars. Click on it and there will be a list of categories, including articles on many communities (warning: several are now defunct) as well as over forty different communal living subjects at the end under ‘What Else’.  Really read up on all the aspects of communal living. Figure out what you want. It might not be an income sharing community. If it is some other type of community, ic.org is definitely the place to begin.

The most popular post on Commune Life is something that I wrote called “How to Start a Commune,” followed by my article “Four Steps to Building a Commune” and Paxus’s “So you want to start a community”.  Lots of folks dream about starting a commune. As someone who has done just that (a couple of times) I would actually advise against it. It’s hard work and very often doesn’t last long. I strongly suggest that you find a community that appeals to you (at least somewhat) and join them, at least for a while.  After you have had a good period of communal living and you know several other folks that share your dreams, then you might want to give it a go.

Meanwhile, when the next big crisis comes along, you will be with others and won’t have to face it alone.  So, start now, searching and researching, and when the pandemic has died down and communities have reopened membership inquiries,  contact them and visit. Do it while you can. You don’t want to be caught dreaming about communal living, when the next time comes and there is no opportunity to join one.

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Communes as Places of Refuge

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