An International Movement?

by Raven Cotyledon

I live in the United States of America. I don’t consider myself a citizen, but the government does. I seldom leave the northeast US, let alone the country, which I only left a few times in my life  (and not since the 1990s) and then only to go to Canada. But I think of myself as a citizen of the world.

Most of the communes that are written about on this blog are in the US.  Most are part of the FEC. The Federation of Egalitarian Communities covers North America, and that includes Canada, and we have featured two Canadian communities on Commune Life, Le Manoir and TCUP.  But the income-sharing movement extends beyond North America.

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Le Manoir
The Common Unity Project

We have had pieces on here about the European communes, particularly Kommune Niederkaufungen in Germany and Las Indias in Spain. I have heard of communes in places as far apart as Denmark and Australia. I have heard stories of some in Asia and South America.


Most importantly, there is the kibbutz movement in Israel, where they were income-sharing long before Twin Oaks and they were an influence on the American commune movement. It is true that many of the radical kibbutzim have become almost capitalist these days, but it’s also true that there are new kibbutzim arising that are trying to bring back the early ideals, especially in urban kibbutzim.

אופציה 1
Kibbutz Mishol

After I published a recent post where I talked about Las Indias and even included a picture that they had sent a few years back, I realized that I haven’t been in contact with them for a couple of years and when I tried looking at their website, it seems to be gone.  I’ve tried emailing them without any response. Someone else who knew them said, casually, that they had gone ‘radio silent’. I am afraid that they, like many other communities, are just gone.

The truth is that it is hard for me, often, to stay in contact with North American communities, and it’s incredibly difficult to keep or sometimes even get in contact with communities outside of North America. That doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.

Ironically, the last that I heard from the folks at Las Indias, they were working on a project to network communities around the globe.  I was excited about it, but I suspect that project is gone along with Las Indias.

Las Indias

Yet my hope is that someone, some day, will find a way to network income-sharing communities around the world, the way that the FEC holds together the fragile network of North American communes.  If change happens from the bottom up, it builds toward the top, and it’s important for all of us in our little communities to know that we are involved in something bigger than ourselves, something that spans the planet.

Please, if you know of other income-sharing communities anywhere in the world, let us know of them. We need each other, no matter where we are.


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An International Movement?

The Common Unity Project–Community Building Retreat

By Timber

Recently 13 members and prospective members of The Common Unity Project attended a weekend workshop titled “Heart to Heart Communication” created by an extraordinarily wise and highly intuitive community building workshop facilitator RoseMarie Pierce. RoseMarie’s innate ability to gently guide people inward to the route of their problems is confounding.  She has over 20 years of experience sharing these workshops which use the framework based on the principles identified by Dr. M. Scott Peck in his books: A Different Drum and The Road Less traveled.



Members at TCUP originally sought out to find a solution to what we felt was a lack of communication process. We value living in community as a way to enrich our individual experience. We want to learn how to live authentically with one another; to build deeper, interdependent relationships; to heal past wounds and break free of our own egoic patterns.  Yet without a communication process and a common understanding of conscious communication we found that we were struggling to implement these ideals and bring them into our everyday being.

“True community is not simply an aggregate of people…but a people which have made a commitment to communicate more authentically, more intimately, more vulnerably.” — M. Scott Peck

The weekend workshop turned out to be a profound experience for everyone. The basic premise of Heart to Heart communication is that everyone has their own unique perspective in how we see the world, and how we see the world is a direct reflection of how we see ourselves within it. Our external likes, dislikes, judgements, blame etc, are all projections of our own individual experience. When we start to understand this we can learn to speak truthfully, taking responsibility for our feelings rather than trying to change or blame others.

The weekend began in complete silence. Slowly whenever someone felt comfortable they would begin to share themselves with the group. Layers began to shed. Feelings that have been withheld for some time were expressed. At times what one person said would trigger feelings in someone else. We learnt to acknowledge these feelings without identifying with them. What is this feeling?…  Where is it coming from?… What do I make it mean?…. Is it true?…

The workshop agenda was with no direction or goal. We were simply asked to “speak our truth at all personal cost.” We the participants took the wheel, it was a spontaneous journey that took us in all directions and gave everyone an opportunity to share their deepest selves. Past traumas, childhood secrets and withheld truths came up and new levels of understanding and connection were reached.

The workshop ended like it began… in complete silence. I felt a comfortable calmness in my body. Like I had let out everything that was keeping me distant from others and revealed my true self, I had nothing left to hide. I looked around the room and I saw everyone with new eyes, I felt no judgment being given or being received. I felt unconditional love and complete trust for everyone at that moment.

After the course we have had much time to reflect, there seems to be a general sense of empowerment from this new way of interaction. More and more we are taking responsibility for our perception of a situation, and our language we now use is starting more and more to represent that. We have continued weekly Heart to Heart circles without a facilitator and more layers are being revealed. There is still struggle, pain, emotions and there always will  be. We now have the tools to express and work through these feelings and because we are sharing them with each other, everyone benefits.

The Common Unity Project

RoseMarie Pierce, B.Sc.Pharm, is a holistic pharmacist with more than 40 years experience in both conventional and natural medicine. Currently, she counsels and lectures on holistic health and mind/body vitality, as well as offering group workshops in community-building. She has decided she would like to dedicate herself fully to facilitating Heart to Heart Workshops and she is eager to offer these workshops to more intentional communities in the future. You can find more about her @


The Common Unity Project–Community Building Retreat

The Common Unity Project – Spring/Summer 2017

by sweetgum

We have taken some leaps this year towards our goal of a permaculture food forest and perennial plant nursery, thanks to a generous donation from The Cassandra Trust. What we are designing and building here on our property, we hope to be able to teach, inspire, and supply the means to do elsewhere.

Step One: Water.


Since we live without ties to the grid or water lines, and we chose to build our home in a sandy field relatively far from the river, ponds was our chosen method of water catchment and storage.   We have one pond that was dug in 2015 and has been supplying our water needs since, supplemented by the tank that catches rain from the roof of the earthship.


Last year we upgraded with a solar powered pump that pumps water from the pond to a tank on the hill supplying gravity fed water for the garden.


Now this year we dug a pond next to the tank, to supply water for the hugelbeds we planted in the fall. The hugelkultur is on contour around the hill and will be flood irrigated via a swale above it. So far even without the swale, the trees and shrubs we’ve planted below the hugelkultur seem to be doing well (those that survived the winter anyway), as well as the annual crops we planted on top.





The pond, being on top of a hill, won’t hold water right away, but the excavator operator, Taylor, smeared the sub-soil with a heavier clay content up on the sides to facilitate sealing. The next step for us is to get pigs and have them live in the pond until fall. Pigs are great pond sealers, they stomp and compact the ground, and love to wallow in the muck. The idea is to keep running water into the bottom of the pond, which alone helps bring the finer clay particles to the surface, and start a small pond that will expand as the pigs seal it. So far we have the electric fence charger and poles in the ground, now we just need a pig shelter and some pigs.


Next came a lower pond, or crater garden, between the chickens and the bees. This was a naturally low lying area that held water in the early spring. Water slowly trickled in as it was being dug, and now it is about half-full. The peninsula in the middle was our compromise for a duck island, since we would like to have ducks live there in the future. We will watch and observe it over the year as we build up the soil around it for future gardens.


TCUP17SS14And last but not least, a shallow well. We stuck a ten foot culvert, drilled with holes in the bottom 6 feet, in a hole by the pond and piled gravel around it. It was a battle to get the pipe in and the gravel around before the silt caved in, but we did a fair job and so far its holding water three feet from the top. We will pump it out until the water runs clear, and hopefully it will be a source of future drinking water and winter irrigation.




This year we constructed two greenhouses in the field, as well as a mini-one attached to the cabin on the hill. They will act as nurseries for propagated plants and winter storage for perennials. We also get to grow some heat loving crops like tomatoes and peppers in them now 🙂



Another greenhouse project that is close to home for us, the earthship in Sik-e-Dakh (Glen Vowell) is finally done.


The project has gone from a deconstruction zone of the old hall, to a one month long dusty tire pounding party, to a more traditional construction workplace with roofing and painting, to cob and plaster fest.




The greenhouse is now complete with grow beds planted with tomatoes and peppers. Much thanks to Caylin Holland for all his hard work on the project, as well as all the volunteers from Sik-e-Dakh and elsewhere who helped out. It is certainly a beautiful greenhouse built for generations to come.




The Common Unity Project – Spring/Summer 2017

A Cornucopia of Communes

Pictures of most of the communities featured in Commune Life over the last year.  (All communes are in US states unless otherwise noted.)

Acorn, Mineral, VA:


Baltimore Free Farm, Baltimore, MD:

Cambia, Louisa, VA:

Cambia 4

Compersia, Washington, DC:


East Wind, Tecumseh, MO:


las Indias, Madrid, Spain:


Living Energy Farm, Louisa, VA:


Oran MórSquires, MO:

Summer OM5a

Quercus (disbanded), Richmond, VA:

Porch music jam on our snazy palette-finished porch

Rainforest Lab, Forks, WA:


Sandhill Farm, Rutledge, MO:

Sandhill 1

Sycamore Farm, Arcadia, VA:


The Common Unity Project (TCUP),  Gitxsan Territory, Hazelton, BC (Canada):


Twin Oaks, Louisa, VA:





A Cornucopia of Communes

Northern BC Community -TCUP 2016 Update

by Sweetgum

TCUP is a community in British Columbia.


Winter is coming – as evidenced by the frozen pond. Some still choose to break the ice and enter the pond for a refreshing bath after the sauna, others take the more convenient but perhaps less refreshing method of using a pot of water heated from the stove.
Our sauna stacked with offcuts from the birch mill. They make a hot fire quick. On the left are some garden beds mulched with leaves for planting apple seedlings next spring. We started several dozen from seed and whichever survive our neglect and the winter cold will be rootstock.
Working on finishing the second story of the pentagon tower so we can cover it for the winter. Last year we made a contraption of sticks and cardboard that sort of made it through the season before being ripped to shreds by the wind.

Comparison photo. The inside of the plastic “roof” over the first story of the pentagon last year.

And a brief recap of some of what we’ve been doing over the summer and fall:

tcup7Volunteer Max working on leveling the floor, his pet project.
tcup8Group picture with some donated coffeehouse shirts.
tcup9Music by the fire.
tcup10Rocket mass heater and bench, under construction.
tcup11The lonnng contour hugelkultur bed for our perennial food forest.


Rocketmass heater showing where to put the wood.

Martin happily harvesting garlic.
Northern BC Community -TCUP 2016 Update

An Introduction to TCUP

The Common Unity Project or TCUP is an communal farm/homestead in Gitxsan Territory, Hazelton, BC. It began as two friends who bought 160 acres in 2011 with the help of an interest free loan from a relative. Since then, it has expanded to seven adults, contracted from four kids to none, and has since receded again to four or so members. Our goal is to sustain ourselves from our region as best as we are able, and we employ permaculture styles of agriculture, urban and wild foraging, hunting, and trade. For us a lot of that revolves around a mutual aid connection with local indigenous peoples and others.

Currently we are income-sharing, which means we pull our resources together, monetary and otherwise. Ideally all money earned goes into the collective pot, and time worked for an income is valued equally to time worked on the collective project, which is sometimes difficult to define. We don’t record hours and our evaluation of whether things are working is based on whether we are making enough money to sustain ourselves and whether all community members are satisfied with how things are going.

We live in tents, campers, and buses most of the time. There is a cabin that has been on the property for awhile that we will be staying in this winter. The communal house, a two-story hybrid strawbale-earthship, will hopefully be finished within the next year or two.

We cook in an outdoor kitchen, sauna and jump in the pond for showers, and watch movies on the big screen TV occasionally. A typical day involves starting the woodstove for breakfast, organizing the freegan food boxes, checking on the chickens, watering the greenhouse, and then working on whatever project needs done that day – wood framing, cob, pounding tires for a community greenhouse in the reserve, mulching the plants, picking berries, canning salmon, harvesting rotten wood for huegelbeds, planting trees, going to the dump to search for materials, etc.

The last two summers we have hosted volunteer camps of 10-20 people, mainly to help with construction on the building. We are planning on lowering the numbers of volunteers in the future, but want to continue to be a place where people can come and experience a different way of living, learn about permaculture and alternative building, and develop themselves.

We are looking for like-minded people who want to live in a rural/town setting, individuals who are willing to communicate openly about conflicts, and those who want to live a simpler lifestyle in community with others. We are open to all ages, genders, races, orientations, and people of various physical abilities and spiritual beliefs. If you have an interest or are part of a similar community and want to connect, contact us!



An Introduction to TCUP