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Do people have success with intentional community?

 
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I'm newer to the idea of intentional community.  I love the idea, I have even talked about doing something like this for years but never knew the term.  I am curious to know though if people have ever had success? We would love the idea of joining a community that isn't spiritually based, allows community members to be autonomous in what they do as long as it's within certain guidelines that the community has voted or agreed upon and has at least 5 acres or more per family.  My issue is I see a lot of people posting looking for people but haven't seen anyone saying they have done it and love it. We have kids so I am a bit afraid of what I might end up with.  
 
steward
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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I've lived in a few intentional communities. Visited many. It's about like marriage. Some work really well. Others are really sucky!
 
master pollinator
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I recommend anyone interested in intentional community read Creating a Life Together, by Diana Leafe Christian.  It is about how some intentional communities succeed when most fail.
 
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Location: Lafayette, CA
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I've lived in a couple of intentional communities, I've been living with the same group now for about 18 years. I think living communally can be by far the best way to live.   The good stuff runs the gamut from the kind of Halloween party you can throw with 25 people helping to having people who can drive you to doctor's appointments, walk your dog when you are out of town, help you with your relationships, teach you to cook or fix a car.

Starting a new community is very hard.  There are a few long lived secular groups around - I suggest you look at them carefully and see what it is about them that has allowed them to flourish.  Our community will celebrate its 51rst anniversary tomorrow.  

I'd heartily second the recommendation of Diana Leafe Christian's book because most new communities fail in the first five years. There are very real legal, organizational, and financial challenges, and Diana's book will guide you there. Another major cause of failure is that people can be hard to get along with. If you don't develop far better than average skills at interpersonal relationships, the group will likely fail. While there are clearly a few people who are the wrong people to have in your community, you can only live with the ones who are willing to live with you. If you know what you are doing, you can in fact do it with most people. We tell our students "if we can do it, anyone can."   You will read a lot about the search for 'the right people,' that works as well as it does.

Your requirements seem reasonable to me.  I don't understand about the acreage, but, if that's what you want, sure.  Why that is important to you? If you are planning to make a living off working five acres I hope you are very enthusiastic about a large quantity of hard work. As far as I know, very few communities (if any) support themselves completely by working the land.

 
Sami Muggy
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George Lafayette wrote:
Your requirements seem reasonable to me.  I don't understand about the acreage, but, if that's what you want, sure.  Why that is important to you? If you are planning to make a living off working five acres I hope you are very enthusiastic about a large quantity of hard work. As far as I know, very few communities (if any) support themselves completely by working the land.



George: I would love to know how to search for the intentional communities that seem to be working well, any suggestions?  The reason for the land is that we would like to do a large garden and raise animals both to sell and to eat ourselves.  In order for us to do that we would need the space.  I wouldn't mind sharing these things with others but to do so we would need to increase the amount of production which would mean more land needed.  Our final goal is to be producing 80% of our own food and then offsetting the other 20% with the income we would be making from the sale of our produce/animals.  If we could make enough that my husband could work freelance outside the home occationally that would be a dream come true!  I will definitely look into getting that book!!  
 
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George: I would love to know how to search for the intentional communities that seem to be working well, any suggestions?  The reason for the land is that we would like to do a large garden and raise animals both to sell and to eat ourselves.  In order for us to do that we would need the space.  I wouldn't mind sharing these things with others but to do so we would need to increase the amount of production which would mean more land needed.  Our final goal is to be producing 80% of our own food and then offsetting the other 20% with the income we would be making from the sale of our produce/animals.  If we could make enough that my husband could work freelance outside the home occationally that would be a dream come true!  I will definitely look into getting that book!!  



Hi Sami. I'm assuming you've been to https://www.ic.org/ already, but I guess you can't really tell which ones are "working well" necessarily. You can find communities that have been around for a while, and I guess that is one way to define working well or success. I'm sure you can find folks who have lived at long standing intentional communities and they might argue the community isn't working well, but I think it's also a matter of finding the right fit. Once you go visit somewhere I'm sure you'll leave with plenty of ideas about where to visit next.

One community that I could confidently direct you toward is the one I've helped start, Bear Creek Community Land Trust! We happen to have a few 10 acre leaseholds available, as well as some smaller options, and are actively seeking families with children. Let me know if you'd like to come for a visit or had any questions!

Good luck with your search! There's a lot of options out there.

-WY
 
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Location: Florida Zone 10
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I've lived in communal living but it wasn't ecological centric.  To me, one possible issue is that communal living can attract the type of person that you don't want in your community- as in they're not there to further your work or goals, but they might be a fugitive or have some other issues going on.  Screening people isn't always the easiest but you can usually get a feel for someone in a trial run.  I've had success in mine but from what I've seen, they need someone who's really making things happen.  Well, everyone should be, but there needs to be at least.someone organizing effort and offering some leadership/guidance.  Leadership, not tyrannical rule. It takes a certain personality to pull it off.  If you get the right people together, it's great, though.  Really good times and some real close.bonds that you don't get often.  You get close to people especially living in the same house/shelter.  
I'm interested in a more ecovillage ic type of deal myself.  I would love my own but I feel like the purpose of a community is strength in numbers and division of labor, so better to find an existing one that fits me than try to start a new one
 
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