new video
hot off the press!  
    more about rocket
mass heaters here.
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

intentional communities: Two essential ingredients  RSS feed

 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
John Michael Greer just wrote a good article on the establishment of intentional communities.

If you aren't familiar with his work, please ignore what he does for a living and the title of his blog until you've given his writing a chance...otherwise it's easy to judge him too soon.

A major point in the article is that communities need two things in order to work: "The first is an accepted principle of authority; the second is a definite boundary between members and nonmembers."

He says it's tough to get a community to work in the US because we assume any authority is corrupt, and because we assume any criteria for membership are unfair. He gives some excellent counterexamples from US history: egalitarian principles of authority, and fair criteria for membership.

I think this speaks tangentially to Paul's exploration of more-hierarchical, less-consensus-based communities. Specifically, Greer suggests that people have abandoned what now seems kind of wise: excluding from the consensus-building process anyone who doesn't accept the results of that process.

It also addresses part of the motivation behind eco-fundamentalism, or eco-puritanism, or eco-McCarthyism, as discussed on another thread. The article points out that it's difficult to disagree with the values of the old system, and yet rely on its benefits, but most everyone I know is in that difficult situation, and trying to overcome that conflict. Greer addresses other, related responses, but I think zealotry is an all-too-common one.

I'd recommend the article to anyone interested in community-building, though, and would like to hear what others have to say:

http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2010/01/this-presupposition-of-passivity.html
 
Robert Ray
gardener
Posts: 1351
Location: Cascades of Oregon
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Joel,
A good article, and I can see where currently many feel those in authority are corrupt, but that doesn't mean that a new intentional communities developed form of authority would be corrupt.
Some have suggested anarchy as an answer or making government obsolete, but I just don't see how anarchy is an answer for any successful cooperative effort in a community.  Identifying those who would be in a community and how they would be governed (authority) to me would have to be the number one and two components of a successful venture.
 
                    
Posts: 0
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've noticed that it's extremely common for people to assume that community is impossible if it's in any way exclusive.  But, I agree with this excellently written article: exclusion of disruptive members is essential for the success of the whole. 

In the car tonight my partner suggested perhaps keeping track of a person's "voting record" regarding community decisions.  If there's a member of the group who is consistently swimming upstream, they should go find a new school of fish, so to speak (terrible metaphor, I know I know!). 

I like his phrase "principle of authority."  The simple word "authority" is usually linked to a "figure of authority" and I can't shake the suspicion that trusting authority to a single person is doomed for corruption (I am american, after all).  But if a group's actions are limited by principles that were originally reached by consensus, the "sense of the meeting" can act to protect the group's interests from the individual desires of its members.  And that again seems essential for the success of the whole. 

Earlier in the evening my partner's 14 year old daughter proclaimed "communes never work!"  and I looked her in the eyes and said "your/my generation might need to make them work, darlin." 
 
Robert Ray
gardener
Posts: 1351
Location: Cascades of Oregon
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I guess I'm with you  depending on the size of  a community a single authority figure is troubling.
The smaller the group, a family or farm for example, might have one figure head but once that umbrella of coverage expands there would have to be some type of agreeable direction determined by the community and then directed by an authority, head, council, board, whatever those enveloped decide.
Exclusivity and welcoming are two different things I think. I wouldn't want a stranger coming to my house and moving in, my house is exclusive. Should I freely offer a place to stay as long as one adheres to those parameters that make my house a happy one would be different. The same would be true of a community. Welcoming those of like mind stay a spell and appreciating a different view from some one who would be happier elsewhere.

 
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!