Community and Techie Fallacy

by Katarzyna Gajewska

Have you met him already? It is usually a man, an engineer or other type of techie, who has understood it all. He has seen through and does not want to submit to the systemic absurdity anymore. He has started to think about how to get out of it. He has read. He has figured out that the current production system does not make sense. Now he is thinking what he can do about it. He may have joined groups interested in these topics or created his own group. The next natural step would be to create a community.

If you want to create an alternative to the current dysfunctional system, you need to understand the fallacy that brought us here, which affects our mindset. The major problem is that economy has been designed by a handful of detached individuals rather than co-created by all affected. Those who have worked as programmers or engineers may bring this policy into their alternative project. Design will not build a community, neither a well written plan or a website with fancy videos. Only people can build a community and this is where the difficulty begins and most stories end.

Developing technology requires highly advanced skills. It takes time and specialization. All these hours spent on honing this expertise may appear as a hard work in comparison to hanging out with people and being in relationships. This long quest may lead to a conclusion that what one needs is the right architecture.

It is worth observing the seduction of technology. It flatters with measurable results and the feeling of achievement. There is something exciting about sketching a model and implementing it. Simplicity feels comfortable.

Have you ever wondered why it hardly ever works? In reality, there is a difference between building a software and building a community. There are some aspects that you need to define in advance like a code. However, your code’s most important element is the space and time for collective processing. Design without a process is garbage hardly usable by anyone except for the one who prepares it and has good time fantasizing and keeping his mind occupied. A collective process may result in a design that exceeds the limits of an isolated mind. Just to give you a an idea, Kommune Niederkaufungen spent years on preparation. The entire project took off because a group of friends met regularly and started dreaming together. If you do not want to waste your time on waiting for a community to develop organically, then consider the comfort of computer work.

No matter how great technological solutions will not sustain any community. Without good vibes, any infrastructure will stay hollow. What is the point of optimization and improvement if you are surrounded by people you do not like to be with in the first place?

There is no such thing as a community without communicating. Learning hard science may create an expectation that a feedback or argument should be logical. For someone who thinks he knows it all because he studied a lot, something that falls outside of his expertise may appear as illogical. There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom. You can acquire knowledge by reading and learning. Wisdom requires going out there into the discomforts and risking being hurt.

A community needs a marriage of knowledge and wisdom. However, our society skewed towards recognizing knowledge rather than wisdom may have thwarted your ability to see them as equal partners. There are some things about community that cannot be formulated as scientific proof. If you have been socialized in scientific way of thinking, you need to be particularly careful to be able to hear the wisdom. It is so easy to dismiss something which is outside of our comfort zone.

In my book “Imagine a Sane Society,” I point to the fact that feminine values and logic are marginalized by our society. When I say feminine, I do not mean gender. It goes beyond biology. Usually techies are more in their masculine essence. Therefore, they need to be careful to be able to hear and even ask the feminine to talk.

The moment when polarities are coming together feels exciting. This is why we keep falling in love, agonizing over breakups, and daydreaming about a stranger. Why not fully embrace the fact that we need each other. And even if we don’t, things are simply more interesting when spiced up by the differences.

It may sound debilitating at first to see that all these hours spent on developing your skills will not suffice to create a community or an alternative production system. However, this is not a wasted time. The fact that something prompted you in the past to invest in this knowledge is the gift that you were meant to give to the world. But it can be given in the best way if it is embedded in a community and human relations., which is an opportunity to step into a life much richer than you designed at the outset. Your design will not spell magic on people but there is a magic in seeing your limits and seeing others. This enables your knowledge to become a gift. A community can rescue it from your lopsidedness.

Help to push Katarzyna’s work to the masses. The entire book will be available for free (digital text + audio) once we collect enough money for production. Donate here!

Listen to an excerpt from this book HERE!

For updates on her publications: Katarzyna Gajewska – Independent Scholar

Her recent publications:

On crowdfunding with Cambia community to complete a feminine utopia and boycotting Amazon

Robot as a Teacher: The Perils of Digitalized Progress in Education

Of Viruses and the Limits of Masculine (Dys)topias

The Cultural Preparation for Crisis

Naming the Alternatives

So you want to leave it all and create a community?

Community and Techie Fallacy

Riding Out the Apocalypse

It was mid-May and by then the extent of the pandemic was apparent. Having had success in writing my post on the difficulties with starting communes, I thought I would try to write something that would attract folks. I thought about my guilt in being in such a perfect situation for this difficult time and wrote about it. It reached 685 people (more than I had ever gotten before) and got 24 comments, so I guess it “touched a nerve” as they say. Here’s what I wrote:

Here are the comments. I can’t really put them in chronological order because Facebook keeps moving the order around, but I will try to put them in an order that I think makes sense. I will start with some comments that I answered:

And one that the writer answered themself:

Then there was a back and forth between Audrey Bochantin and Cicada Musselman:

And James Buchanan’s questions about starting a community, with several folks answering:

And Aurora DeMarco’s comment on conflict as a deterrent:

There were a bunch of general, affirming comments

Finally, there is this long thread:

Riding Out the Apocalypse

Black Land Matters

I (Raven) have put out in several places that I am more concerned about diversity among communities than diversity within communities. But having a true diversity of communities requires many different folks having access to the things that can help build community. Land is one of them. Historically, Black folks have been denied access to land. Here is an important proposal to change that and support communities of color in a way that really matters. Rejoice found this resource and I happily published it in our ongoing series of Facebook posts about diversity and race.

Here is the information on the page that the link goes to. If you want to know more here is the link to the actual article (which then has links to resources and the full proposal).

Unfortunately, this piece was not seen by that many folks (unfortunate because I think that it contains really important information). I did get three great comments on the piece, including one from Rejoice who alerted me to the article in the first place. I totally agree with Cara’s comment.

We will be back on Monday, with more on the topic of race and diversity in communities.

Black Land Matters

So you want to leave it all and create a community?

If you want to leave it all and start a community, you should focus on inner work first. If you focus only on action, you risk building yourself another prison. You might just change one form of unhealthy lifestyle and toxic relations for another as a result.

by Katarzyna Gajewska

(Help Katarzyna bring her book “Imagine a Sane Society” to the world and available for free by donating to the crowdfunding campaign. You are also supporting Cambia and Twin Oaks this way.)

Living in less and less livable cities to attain an unhealthy lifestyle with a toxic job situation makes many wonder, what if they started a community? You may have talked about it with people around you. Congratulations! Seeing what you do not want is the first step out of helplessness and stagnation. You’re so much further than many who just endure unbearable situations. They keep going in the wrong direction by numbing and relativizing. However, the fantasies of moving to a farm and living in a community need to be considered carefully. Boldness is good. It drives potential for change. However, an action needs vision. Otherwise, it may end up as a nightmare as a Japanese proverb warns us.

I am sharing with you some reflections that came into my mind when talking with people who want to create a community and be self-sufficient. One might argue that I have no expertise because I have not done it myself. I have not even tried. The reason why I have not undertaken such a project is not that it is a bad idea. To the contrary, I have met many people who lead a fulfilled life in egalitarian communities. And it has been beneficial for their health. Personally, I prefer to neither live in a community and strive for collective autonomy nor fit the mainstream employment system. This decision is based on knowing my limits and predispositions. I believe that a life that is an expression of one’s unique set of gifts – when creatively combined – brings fulfillment. I have conducted dozens of interviews in communities in Germany and the US. Furthermore, I have met many people who want to leave their mainstream lives and create a community.

First, I would invest in self inquiry before moving anywhere. If you are escaping from something rather than pursuing a project, you may end up reproducing old dissatisfaction. Once you find yourself in a new situation you may start daydreaming about another life as an escape from the discomforts and challenges. So much empowerment comes from knowing your purpose and your capacities. If you have a dream, it is a better investment to put hundred percent into it in order to verify whether it is really what you want instead of moving to a community as an escape from temporary frustration and stagnation.

Second, it is worth spending some time in at least one community. Both egalitarian communities where I have conducted interviews welcome interns and visitors. Twin Oaks community has an orientation program, which can give you an overview of things to consider. Paxus Calta offers personal coaching to help you find your place in communal world. This can be vacation well spent with a lot of self-knowledge as a result no matter whether you want to join one of the communities or not. By seeing what you like and dislike about the experience you will be better equipped to define your own vision. Living in such settings can give you an idea about things to consider and prepare for in case you still want to create a community. We go to school to be adapted to the system. Similarly, spending some time in a communal setting may be a necessary preparation for unlearning what may prevent flourishing in a group.

After all this time spent on personnel inquiry and experiential learning, you are ready for the third step. This is probably the most difficult one because it goes against all the conditioning that has been skillfully put into our system. If you want to leave the system, you need to start with the inner work of questioning. Replacing the old with a new setting may actually turn out even worse. Imagine you wanted to escape the nonsense of being employed. If you reproduce a similar atmosphere and problems as you experienced in a job you hated, you risk to be in a similar situation and ask yourself what had been all this effort for. Not only this, you may not be able to numb and use the salary to compensate for your suffering.

If we want to live a radically different life, we need to touch upon the beliefs and automatisms that serve the status quo. We need to address the core of who we are. Since we have been inculcated into our beliefs and rationality at the age of unconscious learning, you may find yourself in a group of people who want to live a different life but are emotionally attached to the vices, habits ,and influences that are powerful in preventing any success in creating an alternative. There are two questions that you need to ask yourself and deconstruct your conditioning.

– What are my true needs?

There are many ways to analyze how you perceive what you really need. For example, you can experiment living in different conditions as I did for myself. You can look at your habits, addictions, rewards that you think you cannot live without understanding deeply their function in your life. What meaning does the system attribute to them? How do they help you cope and prevent you from facing head on potential discomfort?

I once met a man who wanted to start a community. He also seemed to have problem with alcohol. Whatever he was escaping from, I doubt a community would fulfill his needs because he has not addressed the underlying causes of addiction. It is also worth considering the additional work needed to respond to this craving instead of doing the work to heal from it.

It is important to understand what you really cannot live without. There are things that make us flourish. And things that we got used to even though they do not serve our best selves. Whether you do it alone or in a group, it is a great preparation for setting the priorities for your community. Obviously, you don’t want to live in a setting that feels like a compromise and deprivation. However, our perception of deprivation may be shaped by the commercial interests. For example, shampoo has been used since 1930s but many of us cannot imagine not to use it.

– How do I meet my needs?

This second question is about rationality behind the organization of production. We have been imbued with images and stories about efficiency and productivity. They are well adjusted to maintaining the current system. However, if you want a change, you cannot apply the same set of beliefs. Take farming. I was surprised seeing that in many alternative projects, people follow relatively conventional methods of organic farming imposing working in the sun and unnecessary labor. I have heard of cases of burnout, injuries, and exhaustion because of farming. This is quite ironic that people who want to escape the constraints of the capitalist system put themselves in a situation of the type of labor predominating in a system where human life is not valued. Instead of doing farming in a strenuous way, it is worth investing time in understanding how to work with rather than against nature. There are many publications and movies that describe approached to farming with minimal human labor, energy use and tools. The most famous is Fukuoka’s philosophical book but there are more practically oriented books.

What is the gain of trading a boss who does not care about your wellbeing for the self-exploitation resulting from ignorance and beliefs inculcated by the system that does not want you to be autonomous?

Studying alternative forms of production and meeting basic needs is essential if you want to liberate from the constraints of the system. It requires giving yourself space for creativity and experimenting. The problem with pursuing the beaten yet labor-intensive path is that you may create a lot of sunk costs and emotional investment in the methods that undermine your community in the long run. And then you follow the problems of mainstream institutions and organizations, which you so much disliked. I have heard of a project producing farming tools as a form of liberation. A true liberation would be not to need to rely on tractors and other machinery while bringing satisfying results and making work an enjoyable pastime.

Katarzyna Gajewska, PhD, is an author and educator. You can contribute to her crowdfunding campaigns to help publishing the feminine utopia “Imagine a Sane Society” or other forthcoming Creative Commons books. She has brought out many articles on egalitarian communities based on in-depth interviews.

For updates on my publications: Katarzyna Gajewska – Independent Scholar

My publication list (selection):  https://wiki.p2pfoundation.net/Katarzyna_Gajewska

So you want to leave it all and create a community?

Starting Communes…

On the evening of May 10th, tired and wanting to go to bed, I (Raven) noticed that there was no Facebook post for the next day. I thought about why I had put the blog on hiatus for May and just wrote about it for the next day’s post. I was surprised that it became very popular (or at least more popular than many of our posts before then). In it, I mentioned that, really, no matter what I post here, the same three posts almost always come up as the most popular posts of the day (or the week or the month). I checked just before writing this (at the end of June) and it’s still true. Here’s what I wrote:

As you can see, I got twenty comments. Here are some of them:

Since this was a question directed at me, I felt like I needed to respond.

When Aurora DeMarco put in a short, cryptic comment, Theresa (as Commune Life) pressed her for a longer answer, which she provided.

Tomorrow, I will return to our recent Facebook posts on diversity.

Starting Communes…

Critical Mass

by Raven Glomus

When I was compiling the responses to the questions about communal size for last Friday’s post, I started thinking about the issue of how small was too small and the brittleness of very small communities.

This is not just a theoretical issue for me.  Common Threads, the commune in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that I helped start in the nineteen nineties and loved dearly, broke up when membership dropped down to four adults and then one of the founders decided to leave.  And Cotyledon, my most recent attempt at building a commune, was ended by mutual consent, but my primary reason for deciding this was that it had never grown, in terms of primary members, beyond the three of us, through our more than four years of working on it.

The crew of Cotyledon

As I said on Friday, I don’t think of three people as being a community.  You need at least four adult members with, hopefully, some of them not being in relationship.  And it needs to be real, full time members.  Two adults (generally a couple) with any number of interns, visitors, guests, wwoofers, etc, does not make a community.  The FEC recently (in our Assembly last December) decided to require full FEC member communes to “Have, at minimum, five adult full members who have been in the community a minimum of six months, understand the community systems, and have access to equal participation in the community’s processes.”

I think that four people can be a nice intimate community, but as I said with Common Threads, having only four members makes you very susceptible to falling apart.  Skyhouse was an income sharing community at the Dancing Rabbit ecovillage in Missouri that lasted seventeen years.  It was a small, close group of four folks, but when two of them (a couple) decided to leave and another person also decided to depart (to attend school in another state), it left Tony to decide whether to try to rebuild it from scratch or give up and focus on the ecovillage as a whole.  (I talked with several people about this, including Tony.)  Apparently he tried once and couldn’t duplicate the lovely little commune that they had and, having a lot of responsibilities for Dancing Rabbit as a whole, decided to turn the building into a simple housing unit.  It was a story that resonated with me, given how Common Threads ended.

The Skyhouse building at Dancing Rabbit

So, my question is, what constitutes ‘critical mass’?  While I don’t think that any community is “too big to fail” (although it would take a lot to bring down Twin Oaks–which recently had been bemoaning dropping down to less than seventy folks, which is still bigger than almost any other of the FEC member communes), I think that there is safety in numbers.  (Acorn at one point was down to six members and at another down to two, but they had Twin Oaks nearby to support them until their numbers could be built back up.)  Kat Kinkade, who I will have to admit I admire a lot since she helped start three communes, all of which are still around and doing well, apparently said that she believed in growing communities rapidly, to quickly get past the brittle period.

As I think about it, I would say I think that seven is a minimum number for safety.  Four and five are the fragile numbers–lose one or two people and it feels like it’s over–and often is.  Six might work but it feels too close to four or five.  So I am going to say seven, but I would also say that having nine or ten feels even stronger.

Until recently at Glomus we were six or seven folks (we lost one in the last few months), but we’ve recently gotten three new members (okay, they are saying that they are seasonal, but they are all communal veterans and they feel committed) and the difference for me is large.  It definitely feels more like a thriving community with nine people actively involved here.  

The current line up at Glomus

Having seven or even ten folks doesn’t guarantee that you won’t fall apart, but it certainly makes it less likely.

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Thanks for reading! This post was made possible by our patrons on Patreon. The Commune Life team works hard to bring you these stories about our lives in community, and that work couldn’t happen without support from our audience. So if you liked this article, and want to help us make more like it, head on over to https://www.patreon.com/communelife to join us! 

Deep gratitude to all of our patrons:  

Communities

  • Compersia Community
  • East Brook Community Farm
  • The Federation of Egalitarian Communities
  • Twin Oaks Community

Communards 

  • Aaron Michels
  • Brenda Thompson
  • Caroline Elbert
  • Cathy Loyd
  • Em Stiles
  • Jenn Morgan
  • Janey Amend-Bombara
  • Jonathan Thaler
  • Joseph A Klatt
  • Julia Elizabeth Evans
  • Kai Koru
  • Kathleen Brooks
  • Laurel Baez
  • Lynette Shaw
  • Magda Schonfeld
  • Michael Hobson
  • Nance & Jack Williford
  • Peter Chinman 
  • Raines Cohen 
  • Suzi Tortora
  • Tobin Moore
  • Warren Kunce
  • William Croft
  • William Kadish
  • William Scarborough

Thanks! 

Critical Mass

A Question of Longevity

This is the next in a series that I’ve posting here on questions that have gone up on the Commune Life Facebook page. Here’s the first question we reposted and the second and the third and the fourth and finally the fifth and latest.

In early January, I posted this question on our Facebook page:

Here’s a sampling of the responses that I received:

My comment at the end of the thread is actually a response to Lucy Perry’s question at the beginning of it.

Honestly, I wish I knew a magic formula to guarantee longevity for communities. It is possible; look at Twin Oaks. But, as Julia points out, even longevity brings its problems.

A Question of Longevity

Eastern Massachusetts Community Dream

by  Dave Scandurra

We have a dream of creating an intentional community here on Cape Cod, or in southeastern Massachusetts.  We are seeking community-minded folks who also share our vision of creating a community somewhere in southeastern MA sometime in the next 1-5 years. We will have 1-3 rooms opening up within the year.

The most important aspects of our community:

~Egalitarian.We are big fans of egalitarianism which is the belief that all people deserve equal rights and opportunities. All people will have an equal voice, equal access to community resources, and all labor in the community is valued the same (an hour of cooking is valued the same as an hour of carpentry, for example). Our goal is to affiliate with the Federation of Egalitarian communities (www.fec.org).

.

~Inter-generational. We want to create an inter-generational/multi-generational community where we take care of our elders while raising up the next generation of humans- truly a full circle. In a perfect world, we would be able to take care of elders till the end of their life, bypassing the need for nursing home. And when it comes to children, we would love a critical mass of parents and kids so we could create our own childcare set up and/or home school.

~Shared Businesses. We want to start and run community-owned, ecologically-based businesses. We currently own and operate a profitable Edible Landscaping company here on the Cape (www.ediblelandscapes.net), but we want to find people who are excited about the following businesses: specialty perennial edible plant nursery and seed business, online store (for plants, seeds, books, tools, etc.), herbal products, foraged and farmed floral arrangements and art, niche farming (micro-greens, high profitability market gardening, mushrooms), education/workshops (classes, field trips, etc), and we are open to others’ thoughts on what businesses could fit into this mosaic.

~Location. Our target location is southeastern Massachusetts. Currently, our core of three people is based here on Cape Cod, where we are running an organic landscaping company. The fact that the business is making money here makes it hard to leave any time soon. But in the long term, once we have solid community momentum and if our online store is doing good, we are open to moving anywhere in southeastern New England.

~Permaculture. We are big believers in the potential of permaculture, especially as it applies to community and ecologically-based business. Permaculture is a cohesive set of ethics, principles and practices that help guide the stewardship of an ecosystem to ensure resilience and abundance to all its inhabitants (human and non-human alike). Permaculture means meeting human needs while improving ecosystem health. Permaculture is more of a design science that can be employed when designing anything from a forest garden, to a house, or even a village. It’s a holistic approach to land design, human design, life design or any kind of design. 

These are the five pillars of our vision.

 We also have a three-phase timeline:

Phase 1: The next 1-3 years

We are currently renting  a big beautiful home in Barnstable on 2 beautiful acres with great gardens. We plan to keep renting this home for the next 1-3 years, depending on who comes into the fold and how quickly we can move toward phase 2… We have a greenhouse, an irrigated veggie garden, a ton of edible perennials in the ground and lots of potential. We are renting this home from the mother of one of the core members. We expect 1-3 rooms to open up within the next year or so. When these rooms become vacant, we want to fill them with solid community-minded people. We  want to get our core group solidified, so that we can figure out who is “in it for the long haul.” When we feel really good about our group and we have trust in each other, we can move on to phase 2.

Phase 2: Buying a home

Once we feel ready and that we are all on the same page, we plan to buy a property as a group. This would most likely be here on Cape Cod (or just over the bridge) and will ideally have at least 2 acres, a big home, good privacy, and enough space outside for our permaculture/farming projects. This could happen in any number of ways, but what this will likely look like will be creating a 501d entity. This 501d entity will technically be who buys/owns the property. Eventually any individual contributions made by core members will be paid back by the entity. Another way of funding this would be through so called “angel investors,” or even some kind of crowdfunding campaign. Also, the funding could be a hybrid of: individual contributions from core members, angel investors and a crowdfunding campaign. The whole point of phase 1 is for us to be living together so we’ll have plenty of time to figure this out. Once we get ourselves into our home, we can get to work on phase 2. Phase 2 will be very exploratory. We will try out some of the business ideas, see which ones work for our context. The goal of phase 2 is to tighten up our community, make it work, prove that it works, and figure out what can be scaled up for phase 3.

Phase 3: Scaling up

In the long term, we would love to create a larger intentional community / eco-village on a 50+ acre piece of land that could potentially support 50+ people, somewhere in southern New England. We would love it to be a demonstration site of what is possible when permaculture is applied in the community context. It could take 10, 20 or 30 years to get there, but we still want to keep this goal simmering on the back burner. To give some idea of things we’d love to see in the phase 3 community, we are thinking about creating large scale agro-ecology/agroforestry/silvopasture/permaculture/regenerative farming systems, as well as a storefront/market to sell our diverse products, infrastructure for agri-tourism/education, a hospice-esque building for elders who need extra end of life care, a nature-based school and daycare, ultra-ecological waste treatment (something like John Todd’s Living Machine), conference rooms and retreat center infrastructure, commercial kitchen and big dining hall, gym/sauna/fitness area, camping areas, a big meeting space/auditorium, tiny house sites, communal houses, etc. This is why it could take 30+ years to build. But we are big believers in having epic dreams.

A final point: We are firmly against oppression and violence. We want to foster nonviolent communication, empathy and compassion within our community. We want to create a safe and welcoming space for LGBTQ folks and folks of all races, ethnicity, gender identity and spirituality. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this.  We have been having monthly potlucks called “community conversations.” We just get together to share food and brainstorm and talk about our future community dreams and visions. If you have any questions or would like to be in the loop, shoot us an email at dave.earthmusic@gmail.com and tell us about yourself.  We are excited to hear from you! 

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Thanks for reading! This post was made possible by our patrons on Patreon. The Commune Life team works hard to bring you these stories about our lives in community, and that work couldn’t happen without support from our audience. So if you liked this article, and want to help us make more like it, head on over to https://www.patreon.com/communelife to join us! 

Deep gratitude to all of our patrons:  

Communities

  • Compersia Community
  • East Brook Community Farm
  • The Federation of Egalitarian Communities
  • Twin Oaks Community

Communards 

  • Aaron Michels
  • Brenda Thompson
  • Caroline Elbert
  • Cathy Loyd
  • Em Stiles
  • Jenn Morgan
  • Janey Amend-Bombara
  • Jonathan Thaler
  • Joseph A Klatt
  • Julia Elizabeth Evans
  • Kai Koru
  • Kathleen Brooks
  • Laurel Baez
  • Lynette Shaw
  • Magda schonfeld
  • Michael Hobson
  • Nance & Jack Williford
  • Peter Chinman
  • Raines Cohen 
  • Sumner Nichols
  • Tobin Moore
  • Warren Kunce
  • William Croft
  • William Kadish
  • William Scarborough

Thanks! 

Eastern Massachusetts Community Dream

Join the Next Generation of Ecovillage Builders

by Thumbs

EP2020 LOGO 2

“You’re real, and you’re bigger than my laptop screen!”

We’ve converted a bedroom at East Brook Community into our retreat center headquarters. The walls are covered with butcher paper and the faint scent of colored markers permeates the room as we graffiti the walls with flow charts and picture notes manifesting from our brainstorm. This year we’ve been meeting weekly through virtual conference calls, but that can’t compare to the thrill of collaborating in person.

The Global Ecovillage Network (GEN), and its youth oriented sub circle of North America (NextGENNA) are currently buzzing with growth and opportunities.  This weekend 5 members of our team came together to use this potential energy to update our organizational structure and create strategies for our shared projects.  We did this with the goal of creating clear new ways for people like yourself to plug into our network and feed your community passion.

emergent octopus photo

Following the unconventional passion of community building on your own is difficult and ironic, so our team shared the value of trusting their own insights more when part of a like minded team.

Before expanding our team we need to understand what each of us are doing this for, because like all mostly volunteer non-profits time is limited so the work must nourish our higher selves.  A series of memes we drew capture what part of our heart song this work helps play.

A focus of this retreat was also planning Ecovillage Pathways, an intimate annual event which combines ecovillage education with a community experience.  Ecovillage Pathways 2020 will center around “Healing in Community” and how it shows up in the four pillars of community: social, culture, economy, and ecology.  We will introduce various community tools which ecovillages can use to address these four pillars. With a balance of intellectual discussion, heartfelt connections, and hands on practice this will be an experience of community from the very start.

The experience of designing, organizing and facilitating workshops at this event is in and of itself an incredible learning experience for young people interested in applying professional skills to their ecovillage passion.  However, we’re also ready to serve a broader audience by fostering an online community of ecovillage enthusiasts. We’re lucky to be friends and partners with the already vibrant virtual community network, but are discovering the unique niche we can serve as well.  For example, would you be interested in a monthly virtual discussion group on ecovillage life, opportunities and challenges?

ecovillage skills draw

A unique gift of NextGEN is to expand ones ecovillage education through immersive experiences, and also to invest in trainings which will help you fuse community passion and career.

There are many ways for you to become part of the NextGENNA team, and the best way to learn more about all of them is to join our Welcoming Meeting in November.  It’ll be an opportunity for us to get to know you, and for you to learn about how to plug into the rich global network of ecovillage builders. Please email us at NextGenNorthAmerica@gmail.com to receive an invitation for the Welcoming Meeting.  This event will also appear on our Facebook Page, and sign up on our website to receive infrequent but exciting email updates!

 Watch our Welcome to Ecovillage Pathways 2020 Video

1571338478742_best chicken

Author 

Team Photo

Next GENNA team

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Thanks for reading! This post was made possible by our patrons on Patreon. The Commune Life team works hard to bring you these stories about our lives in community, and that work couldn’t happen without support from our audience. So if you liked this article, and want to help us make more like it, head on over to https://www.patreon.com/communelife to join us! 

Deep gratitude to all of our patrons:  

Communities

  • Acorn Community
  • Compersia Community
  • East Brook Community Farm
  • The Federation of Egalitarian Communities
  • Twin Oaks Community

Communards 

  • Aaron Michels
  • Brenda Thompson
  • Cathy Loyd
  • Em Stiles
  • Jenn Morgan
  • Jonathan Thaler
  • Julia Elizabeth Evans
  • Kai Koru
  • Kathleen Brooks
  • Laurel Baez
  • Lynette Shaw
  • Magda schonfeld
  • Michael Hobson
  • Nance & Jack Williford
  • Peter Chinman
  • Sumner Nichols
  • Tobin Moore
  • Warren Kunce
  • William Croft
  • William Kadish

Thanks! 

 

 

Join the Next Generation of Ecovillage Builders

The First Two Steps

by Raven

Probably the most popular post that I have written on Commune Life is the one on Four Steps to Building a Commune.  Recently I have started thinking that I missed a few steps. 

When I wrote it, I wrote it with the assumption that someone who wanted to start a commune, had come with experience and checked out the alternatives.  Now, I want to look at those things. Let’s call it steps zero and zero point five. (Or Step 0.0 & Step 0.5)

stepzerow1

Let’s start with step zero. If you are thinking of starting any type of community, but especially an income-sharing community, you should at least have some real group living experience. How do you even know that you would even like living in a community if haven’t tried it first?

I know of people who have given lots of good reasons for why they thought that they would be great in community only to find out that they didn’t like it once they really tried it.  You may be great at working with people. That isn’t the same as living with them. If you’re working with a group of people, no matter how difficult, you can go home at the end of the day. If you are living in a community, you are home. These are the folks that you are with, sometimes 24/7.  If you don’t like that, you probably don’t want to live in a commune. 

I would further suggest that if you are interested in starting a community, you actually live in one (even a co-op or collective house) for a couple of years first, and perhaps visit several others for at least a few weeks, before trying to start something. It’s really good to know how things are done at several places. The problem with only knowing one place before you start another, is thinking that the way that things are done in the place that you lived is the way things are always done everywhere.   

seeking-and-visiting-community

The more places that you visit, the wider the range of what you see as possible. Three places I would particularly recommend people who want to start a community should visit are: Twin Oaks in Virginia, to see how a commune that has lasted over fifty years works (I have done two three-week visits there plus many shorter stays), Dancing Rabbit in Missouri, to learn the pieces of how to build community, especially an ecological community (I did their three-week program several years back), and Ganas in New York City, to look at a community that fearlessly embraces conflict (I lived there for two and a half years–I would particularly recommend going to at least several of their morning meetings).

Then there is what I would call step zero point five. Ask yourself why you want to start a commune or any other type of community. Is there already a community that would meet your needs? If so, why don’t you want to live there? Please be real.  Starting a community is a lot of work and most new communities fail. At the very least (and this is moving into my Step One of my four steps), find someone else who wants to do this. Even better, see if there is anyone else who is already trying to do something similar. 
many hands together: group of people joining hands

As an example, I helped start Cotyledon because, first, I wanted to start an income-sharing community in the Northeast US and there wasn’t one at the point that I became involved. Ironically, I found some folks prior to this wanting to start a farming community in upstate New York, but after over a year working with them, I decided the way they were organizing wasn’t viable. I found out about Point A, so I would be working with a project out of the communes and after I was up here I met gil and DNA, so I now had a group to work with. (The irony is that a few years after I left, and by that time I was committed to working with Point A, the upstate farming community reorganized so that it was viable and became East Brook Community Farm. I am currently taking my own advice and planning on moving there as  Cotyledon winds down.) And I had literally decades of community living experience, including having previously started a commune in the 1990s, and visiting all the places that I mentioned above, all of which proved very useful in starting Cotyledon. And, even that wasn’t enough when we weren’t able to attract enough people. 

I am not suggesting that you need decades of experience, but I also think that someone who wakes up one day and says, “I want to build a commune” will not get far without, first, having at least some group living experience and perhaps visiting a bunch of communities, particularly places like the one that they are dreaming of, and second, having a really good reason for starting yet another new community, rather than simply joining one.

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Deep gratitude to all of our patrons:  

Communities

  • Acorn Community
  • Compersia Community
  • East Brook Community Farm
  • The Federation of Egalitarian Communities
  • Twin Oaks Community

Communards 

  • Aaron Michels
  • Brenda Thompson
  • Cathy Loyd
  • Em Stiles
  • Jenn Morgan
  • Jonathan Thaler
  • Julia Elizabeth Evans
  • Kai Koru
  • Kathleen Brooks
  • Laurel Baez
  • Lynette Shaw
  • Magda schonfeld
  • Michael Hobson
  • Nance & Jack Williford
  • Peter Chinman
  • Sumner Nichols
  • Tobin Moore
  • Warren Kunce
  • William Croft
  • William Kadish

Thanks! 

 

The First Two Steps