Learning From The Past
This issue of Communities magazine, sponsored in part by the Communal Studies Association, focuses on Learning from the Past. Current communitarians reflect on lessons from their own and their communities’ histories, and on inspiration from historical communities that inform their own efforts.
Students of communalism share the outcomes of their research, including recipes for success and failure and other insights from past and present communities. Community seekers and founders describe what they’ve learned so far.
Throughout, it is explored how learning from the past can help us navigate the present and move toward a more vibrant, functional, cooperative future.
Articles in “Learning From The Past”
- Publisher’s Note–Celebrating 30, Looking Forward by Sky Blue
- Notes from the Editor–Memory Lane Is No Dead End by Chris Roth
- The Communal Studies Association by Don Pitzer
CSA and FIC partner to spread awareness of communal groups past and present and the vital lessons they offer, in areas ranging from conflict resolution, sustainability, and equality to the dangers of authoritarianism.
- Why The Farm Collective Failed by Melvyn Stiriss
A convergence of causes—from hierarchy (and denial thereof) to ego, mismanagement of money, the “bubble effect,” and more— ended The Farm’s 13-year collective experiment.
- Why The Farm Survived by Douglas Stevenson
A long-time member offers his own perspective on what led to “The Changeover” and why The Farm was able to endure, its central vision much greater than any “cult of celebrity.”
- Tracking the Communities Movement: Years of History and the Modern FIC by Sky Blue and Betsy Morris
For decades the Fellowship for Intentional Community has been an essential resource for documentation, support, and networking. Here are some definitions, community types, and organizing principles.
- Learning from Our Past by Bill Metcalf
Forty-five years of researching, writing and teaching about, and living within intentional communities yield personal lessons with global implications.
- Tracing Windward’s Memeology by Walt Patrick
The Haudenosaunee, the Oneida Community, and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, with its vision of a “polyamorous line family,” all form part of Windward’s conceptual ancestry.
- Why I Study Communal Societies by Susan Matarese
The study of intentional communities can help us explore the perennial questions of concern to political theorists—and to all of us.
- Fifty Years of Utopian Intentioneering at Twin Oaks Community by A. Allen Butcher
A long-lived egalitarian community offers valuable lessons about optimum population levels, the revolutionary potential of labor-credit systems, and the equal valuing of all types of work as a practical expression of feminism.
- The Value of Community: What Defines Success? by Deborah Altus
Short-term experiences of intentional community, and short-lived communities, can still have powerful, life-changing, and society-changing effects.
- Life Lessons for Community Longevity by Graham Ellis
The founder of Bellyacres Artistic Ecovillage profers advice inspired by the nearly three decades he was immersed in the experiment.
- What Past and Present Communities Can Teach New Communities by Raven MoonRaven
Successful communities have usually shared a willingness to work hard, as well as commitments to building relationships, self-reflection, and listening to one another.
- My Advice to Others Planning to Start an Ecovillage, Revisited by Lois Arkin
Nearly two-and-a-half decades of urban community experience yield 1 key ecovillage founding guidelines, thrice refined.
- Happy, Healthy, Functional, Fit: What Works Best in Present-Day Intentional Communities by Zach Rubin, Ma’ikwe Ludwig, and Don Willis
In a survey of nearly 30 contemporary communities, increased egalitarian practice, stronger commitment mechanisms, and outside assistance in conflict resolution all correlate with greater group cohesion and effectiveness.
- Intentional Community in a Nicaraguan Jungle: Honoring my duality through community practices by Elizabeth Arnott
Through her experience temporarily “unplugging” to join a community emphasizing genuine connection and values-based living, an international law student gains lifelong lessons.
- Overcoming Our Americanness by Colin Doyle
Unless we learn from past and present communities, and collate lessons from our own, we will bob as separate crafts on the ocean of our uncooperative and ahistorical Americanness.
- A Community Journey by Brittny Love
A journey across the country visiting intentional communities offers insights and personal inspiration.
- Dreaming of a Different Way by Amanda Crowell
An experience of intentional community during college inspires a long-term dream (an alternative to the American one), temporarily impeded by student loan debt and other setbacks, but now alive, well, and providing guidance in daily life.
- Forty Years in Community: Has It Made a Difference? by Linda Moore
A dedicated communitarian reflects on the challenges and rewards of cooperative living.
- The Start of Ravens’ Roost–Ravens Unite by Mary Miner
Having felt a sense of community in a small town in Arizona, the author reestablishes it many years later in a cohousing project in Alaska.
- Five Things We’ve Learned Before We’ve Ever Built by Mairead Cleary
Still in the process of formation, Bruns Eco Village in Australia finds itself on a steep (but welcome) learning curve.
- The Community of Camp Catawba by Charles A. Miller
A summer camp for boys started in the 1940s leads to lifelong, millennium-spanning connections.
- Review–The Unsettlers by Nancy Roth
- Creating Cooperative Culture–Honoring Diana Leafe Christian by FIC Staff