The concept of intentional communities is not a new one and contemporary working models can be found in many cultures and countries. Ashrams are also intentional communities, as are communes and certain housing cooperatives. Historically, intentional communities have been places where idealists have converged to imagine, create and live in a better world. Unfortunately, many idealists did not have the practical means by which to support their vision. Some were able to entice benefactors who could join in the vision, if not the cause itself. But others were not as fortunate and returned to their former lives embarrassed and penniless. Please do find yourself in these and all other scenarios put forth. As you read between the lines you will both recognize and reconcile a few past lives. Decisions made long ago will seem as yesterday, and will free you to make new ones as soon as tomorrow.
Members of an intentional community typically share a common social, political and spiritual vision. Appropriately, as individuals evolve, so must their connection to community and to the world. A community must therefore be fluid in its interpretation of growth and evolution, or it will be unable to sustain the principles upon which it was founded. Although this seems an obvious point to make, the very principles that draw an individual to a group quickly become the laws that bind him. It is important to recognize that it is the membership that gives laws life and not the other way around.
There are many different kinds of intentional communities. In a sense, each one extends a promise of some kind, so it is important to allow your forward-thinking vision to see into them and through them as much as possible. At this point time, less than five percent of such communities are able to uphold their promise. The fault, if there must be one, lies with the levels of tolerance within humanity at this time. A community, even an intentional one, cannot separate itself from the human consciousness lies outside of it boundaries. Human nature has a way of creeping in, like an unwanted guest who will not leave.
Intentional communities are designed to promote a higher degree of social interaction than other communities. Members typically share at least some responsibilities and resources. Although there are guidelines in place regarding commitment to responsibilities, it is rare to find these in balance at this time. This affects the sustainability of the community, so it is not simply a matter of making sure that each member is doing their fair share of the work, or of having a source for monitoring that the work has been done.
It is important now more than ever to recognize the strengths as well as the weaknesses in individuals and communities. Each person carries their own design, their own blueprint, and no two are alike. Although your laws state otherwise, humanity’s current social and educational systems are based upon a ‘smartest and fittest’ rule. As long as everyone is doing their best it should not matter what task they are best at, or how much or how often they work at it. Even the best of the current batch of intentional communities has not mastered this yet, because they are still following a model that is outdated. Soon it will be obsolete. As community learns to uphold its weakest members its strongest will become true leaders. Until then they will be managers, governors and elected officials.
Ecovillages are a less structured alternative. Ecovillage members are united by shared ecological, social, and sometimes spiritual values. Their members look out upon a world that seems wasteful and driven by a consumerist lifestyle. They see an upcoming breakdown in governance via centralized power, and in the more traditional forms of community. They object, perhaps more strongly than others, to the destruction of natural habitats and an over-reliance on fossil fuels. They see their decision to live in small-scale communities that have a minimal impact and a smaller footprint as an important and viable alternative.
These communities often thrive in more rural environments where organic farming and other cooperative practices are already in place. Network, or peer villages are already working together, some much better than others. Ecovillage members believe they are doing their part in averting an ecological disaster. Ecovillages are intended to be socially, economically and ecologically sustainable. They are based upon popular ‘social network’ theories derived from anthropological and sociological studies, which suggest maximum populations of fifty to one-hundred-fifty members. The studies that form the basis of these themed villages also include models for ecomunicipalities and subcommunities. While few of these exist today there is a strong possibility that something akin to these models will gain a broader foundation of support in the years ahead.
Cohousing is another alternative in both community and lifestyle. Cohousing communities are small-scale neighborhoods that suggest a balance between personal privacy and community involvement. This more recent type of community is designed, planned and managed by its residents and therefore require a higher-degree of resident participation. Most major decisions are arrived at through a consensus, or an agreed upon decision-making process. These communities often include a diverse mix of people, including singles, couples, elders, and families with children. Intergenerational interaction among neighbors is promoted and encouraged with obvious social and practical benefits. Although each home is self-sufficient, the community is designed for and around people who want more interaction with their neighbors. Common grounds and facilities and shared social activities are a theme of cohousing communities. If privacy were one of your main objectives, this would not be an obvious choice. Still, living amongst people who know and care about each other is important to any lifestyle choice.
It is likely that you have an ideal circumstance in mind. Follow these thoughts mindfully and see where they lead. Consider your priorities and decide if they are temporary or long-term. Are you open to a situation that is still inventing itself? After all, isn’t that what you are doing? Is the situation flexible? Are you? Is your intention fluid or fixed? In joining a new community, what will you bring to it and what will you expect from it? Are you willing to share your resources? If so, how much, to whom, and for what purpose? Assuming you had not been invited to join, would you be able to petition membership? If so, what voting body would determine the outcome? This question is a very relevant one, because more than likely you will want to share your new life with others, and they will want to join you in yours. Assuming you no longer wish to live in this ideal situation, what options are open to you in transferring your property or your interest elsewhere? These are important and relevant questions. Your answers should be candid and true to course.
It is certain that you will find as many alternative lifestyles, as well as communities to support the lifestyles as your imagination will offer. This decade and the next will see the advent of many more, some based upon desire and others upon necessity. Economic and environmental benefits such as shared spaces and resources will become an obvious solution for those who are ready to embrace change. Participatory communities will continue to rise in popularity. Home-based businesses, tele-commuting, job-sharing, and Internet-based commerce it will fuel the transition and accelerate the timing of these alternatives. Access to cities via normal routes and current methods of transportation will become increasingly difficult for the next several years. Skyrocketing costs, surface viruses, environmental hazards, and unidentified airborne illnesses will suggest and encourage the need for new choices.
Do not jump to conclusions, as none exist. Remain balanced in both perspective and obligation. Humanity is only now re-learning how to live with and as a community. Intention is subjective; therefore intentional communities must begin with gentle and open communication with one another. It is interesting to note that many who are prepared to move away from their current lifestyles actually have much in common with them, but no longer think so. Please assume that your evolution also assumes that of others, even your neighbors, friends, and family. If you will move elsewhere then do so with an open heart and an open mind, even where they are concerned. Strive for interpersonal growth, encourage wisdom, opt for compassion in soft and harsh moments alike, and live mindfully within the Spirit of community. ,
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