So it’s my fourth month at my new job. I’m getting better at the job, which is good. I really am grateful to have it during these tough economic times, but I also long to do things which are more fulfilling and make a bigger difference in the world. Fortunately, I’ve started to have more energy after work and on my days off, so I am trying to get going on projects again, namely the Sunflower Village Initiative. This is the most important thing to me, it continues to be what I want to do with my life. I still feel like I spin around in some of the same circles with it. Increasingly I recognize this as my own need to change and grow. I have to deepen my commitment and persistence. I need to take action much more consistently. I need to nurture relationships with people who are doing what I want to do. I want to develop humility but also make sure that I am finding opportunities to incorporate myself into the movers and shakers of this movement. Recently I’ve been encouraged by some news about how solar, wind, and other energy endeavors are making substantial progress. I guess I feel like there are a lot of people in the world doing and working on what I want to be doing and working on, but I’m not really in that realm. I’m not going to quit my job for now. Daniel really does need to go back to school and have that opportunity to get his own education. But I want to work more on my days off on making this happen. Right now the main thing I’ve decided is that I need to take some advice I’ve recieved from a lot of people over the years: go check out existing and forming intentional communities. I’m finally not limited by school work or not having a car. All that’s standing between this and me is my own laziness and lack of focus. I’m aiming to change that. Started working on a database today, prioritizing intentional communities nearby. Once I have a list, I’m going to start making plans to visit, and invite others to join me. I’m hoping for a multiplicity of effects: 1) Get ethnographic observations that will serve as examples 2) Increase my involvement in the community of W. Mass in the realms of intentional communities, sustainable agriculture and economy, and hopefully solidarity with less privileged groups/communities, 3) Increase the bond between myself and people I might potentially create a community with, and let them see other intentional communities first hand. I’m hoping that this last one in particular might lend itself to encouraging us to find out how we want to follow up on this dream, individually and collectively.
Conceptions of Intentional Communities July 18, 2011
Just had a great conversation with K.R. about intentional communities (IC). We talked about what we think one is, how I came to realize that this was my big interest, and the place where she is about to be interning/living, which some define as an intentional community and others don’t. Apparently there are those who really want it to be an IC and then there are a few, more powerful people, who seem to be mainly interested in the space for running programs. This is the sort of thing that makes me wish SVI was all ready to go, because it shows me that my work really is needed.
I’m thankful to L.O. for the time she took to read over what I have of the founding docs so far. Her editing is always so helpful. So I’m polishing away at that.
I’m about halfway through Walden Two. So far my favorite parts are the section on how work is managed and the part on how children are taught to deal with obstacles. The part on work management is very interesting because it is one of the aspects of the book that comes across very clearly in the way that the Twin Oaks community was able to actualize the concepts of Planners, Managers, and work-credits. Of course many ICs have developed some kind of labor system, but Twin Oaks has long been my favorite example. Although I disagree with some parts of the system of child-raising in the book, I do appreciate how there is an effort to teach children how to deal with obstacles as a growing opportunity rather than a frustration, annoyance, or cause for jealousy. Overall, I think the book is interesting and definitely has some valuable thoughts. However I also see it as strongly influenced by being written in the period immediately after WWII, when science, the scientific method, and scientific approaches were supposed to solve so many of our problems. In some ways, Skinner (the author) seems to try too hard to make Walden Two an absolutely “scientifically” run community. While there is value in the ways science has allowed for the improvement of life, it is not a virtue in itself, but a tool or an asset. The most important values for a community lie elsewhere. Although Skinner has alluded to some of them, so far he has not been explicit.
Walden Two and Founding Documents July 15, 2011
I picked up Walden Two by B.F. Skinner again the other day. When I started reading it, I only got a little past the introduction, but I have more appreciation for it right now. The existing community which I most admire, Twin Oaks, used this book as inspiration when it got started, and I am curious to see what I think. So far I don’t have any major objections to the material although I’m not sure how much of it I would personally prioritize in a community.
Over the course of this past week, I have also been working on developing some founding documents for the Sunflower Village Initiative. Some of it is derived from posts here and from some other writings. I am working on a piece to explain the essence of what this Initiative is, and I am also working on some By-laws. I have also been thinking about what a really effective board will be like.
Another MA IC January 6, 2011
Note to self: Look at this Community in MA more. http://www.mosaic-commons.org/
Sirius. Huh. Thought I posted this last fall, guess not. June 15, 2010
On Sunday afternoon late this summer, I went to Sirius, a well-established community in North Amherst. I was only there a short time, but I got to see a few of the buildings. We spent most of the time at the main building, which, in addition to apartments, holds a huge kitchen, a large dining and living space, and the most beautiful community space I have seen yet. The building was built by Sirius members and friends. The walls are white, with the supporting wood beams showing. On the outside of the dining area is a very large greenhouse, which contains the largest rosemary bush I have ever seen, basil, tomatoes, and some other plants with which I am less familiar.
More on this another time.
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.
Taking Action October 13, 2009
As I mentioned before, Julie Graham started a Wiki for my Economic Geography class. I’ve just made a contribution to the section I’ll be studying for the rest of the semester. You can see it here: Diverse Economy activities of Intentional Communities in Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York.
Doing the research for that felt really productive. I love how absolutely relevant this class is. But it does make me wonder a bit about why I have such a hard time doing this kind of research and writing on my own. I do love it. I think maybe it has something to do with dreaming hard and feeling like there are possibilities but they’re so far away all the time. But not learning about them doesn’t bring them any closer. So I’m glad that this class is getting me moving.
I fantasize about living in space I have control over all the time. It’s something I’ll have to drop off and on as school keeps me on it’s schedule, but I’m going to start looking at architecture again. I am going to just listen to Goethe more: Whatever you can dream, begin it; for there is magic and power in it. It’s alright to have halting starts and half-finished things… they are all part of the building of dreams, of taking action. And action lets me get somewhere, let’s me see and others see that these are no mere pipe dreams or infantile wishes. A better world is possible. Some people are already making it better, and I am learning to be one of them.