Watching the “Visions of Utopia” DVDs is an educational and inspiring experience for anyone interested in intentional community and sustainable social movements. One of the things that I found most eye opening was the incredible diversity of intentional community styles. While I knew from reading and study that intentional communities could be very diverse, it was quite a different experience to hear about the development of the communities, to witness some of the physical culture of the communities, and to hear the perspectives and experiences of a variety of community members. A special treat for me was the inclusion of Twin Oaks. I first encountered Twin Oaks while researching sustainable living and intentional communities at the Boston Public Library. I discovered Twin Oaks, a Walden Two Experiment, which is an accounting of the first five years of the Twin Oaks community. I was very inspired by the history and practices I found. Later, I was delighted to discover that the community still exists, now with a membership of 85 adults and 15 children. I have occasionally visited the Twin Oaks website. To see the place and some of its inhabitants in the “Visions of Utopia” documentary was very exciting. In watching the videos, I came to better appreciate the cohousing model. Still, I am most excited about the intentional communities which have a sustainability focus, particularly those which incorporate gardening and other sustainable, self-sufficiency supporting practices. I thought it was interesting that in some communities, founding members were initially primarily interested in the practicality of sharing material resources, but found that one of the most important resources were social, revolving around the deep emotional bonds that formed from sharing high proportions of activities and people’s lives. The multi-generational aspect of all the intentional communities portrayed is an important indicator that this kind of approach to living is something that does not just function for people in any one age group. I am glad that the documentary allowed space for children and young people to talk about their experiences growing up or living in these intentional communities. It demonstrated their appreciation for this lifestyle. All the children appeared healthy and happy, and those who were interviewed had glowing, healthy countenances, and spoke clearly and intelligently. They seemed to share an appreciation for access to many different adults and for the diversity that surrounded them. Parents valued the sense that children were safe in the community, even if they did not watch them every moment. Many people also commented on the value of sharing responsibility for raising children. Some communities do have a low proportions of youth, but they are generally aware of this and taking steps to enable the intentional community to pass to following generations.
“Visions of Utopia” documentaries on intentional communities around US December 3, 2009