II 16 Intentional Communities Theme

The September 2013 Theme

[Editor's note: this is the third entry in a series of articles on European ecovillages by Matthew Slater.  Parts one and two looked at Spain's Lakabe and Amalurra communities.  Watch for more stories in this series as Matthew continues his tour.]

Sieben Linden (Seven Linden trees) sits amongst forests, fields and sparsley populated villages in the plains of Northern Germany.

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Amalurra, Basque for 'mother earth', was formed from a meditation group with life coach Irene Goikolea over 20 years ago. Wanting to take their practice further, they bought an old seminary and oriented their lives around making it beautiful and offering hospitality. Fast forward to now, and there are several gleaming buildings, including a hotel, hostel, spa, cafe, restaurant, many spaces for meetings and workshops, and a sweat-lodge next to a stream and extensive gardens.

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[Editor's Note: This article was originally published at Responding Together in April of 2013.  It has received minor editing for clarity.  The original version of the article can be found here.]

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[Editor's Note: These guidelines were originally written in 2010, and were updated in April, 2014.]

The principal conditions are: a group or community who have come together to do something together, either through working together or living together, or sharing some experience together.

Common basis of unity

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[Editor's Note: More than a few groups in the US use the ZEGG Forum. In January one practitioner of the process from the West coast, Teryani, reflected on how this is unfolding in her blog. Another on the East coast, Sarah Taub, responded in a long piece originally sent to a ZEGG Forum list. She revised it for inclusion here in GEO’s Intentional Community/Solidarity Economics theme.

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Re-imagining ‘church’

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Luft and Ingham (1955) observed that there are aspects of our personality that we are open about and other elements we keep to ourselves. At the same time there are things that others see in us that we are not aware of. There is also an area that everyone is unaware of. Luft and Ingham came up with a model that highlights these four areas and this they called the Johari window.

Why working towards improving our world should be a defining part of any intentional community

Ganas http://www.ganas.org/is a diverse home for 75 people in Staten Island, NY that also operates three retail stores. The core group of the community involves 10 members who pool their talents and incomes as well as energy and time. A Planning Group of core members and committed members collectively coordinate management of the community, meeting five times a week, seeking to bring reason and emotion together in daily problem solving.

 

Obamacare is changing the game of private health insurance, but private health insurers are still in it to make profit. And while they are in the game, they will do their best to rig the game in their favor.

Imagine a world where wealth is measured not by how much you have, but by how much you give to others. Imagine people in a huge house full of stuff being considered “poor” because they never pass any of it along to someone else. Imagine going out on a summer day and seeing sign after sign posted, not for a Rummage Sale, but for a Giveaway. There would be the same tables heaped with clothes, knickknacks, and books—but no price tags.

 

Dancing Rabbit is an ecovillage and intentional community of about 70 people set amid the hills and prairies of rural northeastern Missouri. Our goal is to live ecologically sustainable and socially rewarding lives, and to share the skills and ideas behind that lifestyle.

 

We are hitting against our own limitations constantly. You cannot force a change, you cannot create a change because we are tainted with the elements of the culture we grew up with. But we can open up an experimental space for transforming ourselves—personal transformation within a community context. In transforming ourselves, we create a new context. This is not a revolution against but a revolution for contact, for opening up, for becoming what humans can become.   George Caneda, Ganas Community

 

Living in community and being involved in collective action in all its forms puts one right in the middle of what blocks the development of cooperation and mutuality. What an advantage this can be! Peter Senge, who helped develop the concept of the “learning organization,” describes it:

The 80 houses that make up Enright Ridge Urban Ecovillage are only minutes from downtown Cincinnati, yet they are surrounded by a couple hundred acres of woods and greenspace. Jim Schenk tells the story of their struggle to preserve the diversity of the land they “own.”

Humans, “ownership,” and non-human life

 

The mutual need for seeing each other

The world is filled with alternative lifestyles and ways of earning livelihoods. Awareness of them is quite dim and scattered, however. Even people living these different lifestyles and practicing different ways of producing, distributing, and consuming goods and services are surprisingly unaware of each other. Mainstream media is, well, radically mainstream. GEO's Fall 2013 Theme seeks to fill and bridge some of the gaps that MSM’s radically exclusive approach creates.

As editor of this Theme I am bringing together two of the worlds I thrive in: intentional communities and solidarity economic organizing. I have been a member of the Ganas ganas.org intentional community since 1980, and for the past six years I have been very active in the world of grassroots economic organizing: researcher and consultant with the Valley Alliance of Worker Co-ops in western Massachusetts, a co-founder of SolidarityNYC in New York City, and as an editor with GEO itself.

Sleeping Where I Fall (Counterpoint, Washington, DC, 1998) by Peter Coyote

ZEGG ecovillage in Germany developed its own form of transparent communication, which is now being adopted worldwide by various social networks and communities: the ZEGG Forum. It was born from a desire for truth and healing, both personal and global. Forum creates an empathic social environment that supports us to stay present with all that is inside, however it may feel. A guiding principle is: “there is nothing original inside of me, that is bad or wrong”.

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