Avalon Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2009
Re: Community Project
We, (my family and I), have spent nearly two years on the road in an RV full-time visiting many of the “Intentional Communities” across the country. We visited dozens of the communities that were listed on the ic.org website, in many different states. Generally speaking, what we found was that most of the written profiles and what the various communities were really like were two completely different things.
Nearly all of them have a few things in common:
No matter what “rule(s)” were written and agreed to were enforced unfairly and inconsistently.
No matter what type of legal land ownership was in place, (and there are many), no matter whether they had a community income producing mechanism and the income produced was shared by the community, or individual earnings that were kept entirely separate, there was still a lot of disagreement and constant hard feelings over money, and over land ownership.
No matter what list of “rules” were written and agreed to, someone always found a way to misuse it to their advantage and someone else’s advantage.
No matter what financial structure was put in place, it always came down to; whoever had the most money “wins.”
There was, in every case that we came across, one or more people, (usually the “founder”), who was on a power trip and turned into a “mini Hitler”, acting as dictator over the other members.
I could write a VERY long list here, but I hope you all get the idea.
The truly interesting thing is that completely by accident, (or was it?) during our travels, we came upon a “community” that was not listed in any directory we could find. It was made up entirely of “full-timers”. These people, even though they did not belong to any specific “community” embodied what the word “community” means. Whenever someone went to the store, if something happened to be on sale, they bought an extra one or two and freely gave it to whoever needed it the most. If someone was going to make a trash run, they offered to take others trash as well as their own. If someone was sick, others jumped in to make meals, share herbal remedies or whatever else was needed. All of this was done without any “rules”. They did it because it was the right thing to do, not because some authority figure told them they “had to.”
This community was such a joy to be part of! It was made up of people who were tolerant of differing beliefs, differing backgrounds and differing political opinions. Because the large majority of full-time Rvers are older, retired people, it was also a community of experts, people who had spent their entire lives working in one field or another. It was, in a way, like going to school. This was real, hands on learning, not a list of theories in a book. You see, these people LOVED to visit and freely share the knowledge that took them a lifetime to learn. Because these people (most of them) grew up in a different era than we did (referring to my age group), they were tolerant, respectful, helpful, and they had manners. For the most part they were not greedy brats trying to take advantage of each other or spending their time trying to figure out a way to take advantage of others or trying to work out a way to bend the rules.
Unfortunately, this community existed on government land and people were only allowed to park there for so many months out of the year. Yet, most of them continue to go there for those “allowed” months every year. If it were in a more permanent location, we would still be there!
The way things are going, and with many of the changes already taking place, privately owned land is becoming a thing of the past. Government is finding more and more ways to take over privately owned property. They are stealing water rights. They are taking private land away only to give it to someone else to make a buck.
Our family has learned a lot about what makes a community work and what makes it fail. I realize that we are not experts by any stretch of the imagination, but we have learned a few things that we would be glad to share with any who are interested. I am not saying that we have all the answers, far from it. But perhaps if many of us put our heads together and if we all shared with each other what we have learned, maybe, just maybe, together we could create something that could work for all of us?