Chattering Mind

Chattering Mind

Hippie Communes Have Evolved, and You May Like Them

FindingCommunity.jpgThe hippie 1960’s dream of communal living has been deflated by its own bad press. Its old lefty tires were punctured by reports of power-hungry leadership, sickening free sex, and manipulative, “spiritual” screwed-upness.
But communal living, known as “intentional community” today is by no means dead. The movement has come out of its own period of self-analysis; it’s learned its lessons, and is actually growing by leaps and bounds. People with similar dreams–to farm biodynamically, eat locally, worship in unison, share some of the tasks of homeschooling children, etc.–are finding ways to pool resources, buy property, and live in harmony.
If I were in my early 20s again–as lonely and aimless as I was back then–I think I would consider living in an intentional community situation. And when I’m old and gray, an intentional community for seniors sounds like it could be both meaningful and fun. In 30 years, there will be a lot more of them. (click “continue reading” for the rest…)


Yeah, yeah, when you’re living near anybody, and sharing anything–it’s just like it was in your original family–some of the people you’ll get saddled with will drive you insanely crazy. You have to be careful. Some folks seeking community have been alienated from the world for good reasons, God knows what they were. But I admire the goals of those who are currently working to embrace health, share food prep, housing and chores, treading lightly on the planet the whole time. From what I understand, not all intentional communities are specifically residential. You might have your own home or apartment, but just share in the farming or creation of a meditation center…or something. Some shared, suitable goal.
No doubt all intentional communities must sponsor tedious, mincing meetings over what is the “right” way to move forward. That seems inevitable. But when the people are smart and decent, that’s not such a terrible thing. (I’ve endured a silly meeting or two as a member of the Park Slope Food Coop in Brooklyn! One time we debated whether or not the Coop should be wired with stereo speakers so that music could be piped through grocery store, but Coop old timers (one guy wearing overalls) vehemently rejected this notion since, in the name of diversity, we needed to recognize that, with 12,000 members, we’d never agree on what kind of music to play!)
Here’s the ultimate guide book on intentional community, if you’re interested. It’s called “Finding Community: How to Join an Ecovillage or Intentional Community.” There are Steiner communities, Buddhist communities, Quaker communities, gay and lesbian communities, artistic communities, ecovillages of all sorts springing up here in the states and in Europe.
I just purchased my first copy of the magazine “Communities: Life in Cooperative Culture.” It’s packed with earnest ads for conferences on such interesting subjects as “Senior CoHousing,” “Women Living in Community,” and “Waking Up Together: Creating Contemplative Residential Communities.” Subscribe to this publication by clicking here.

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posted July 12, 2007 at 6:26 pm

A big fan of the book “Spiritual Midwifery,” I had fantasies of living with such lovely people and visited The Farm community in Summertown, Tennessee in the early eighties. My husband and I camped on the grounds, swam in the swimmin’ hole, and attended Sunday Service in a meadow, led by Stephen Gaskin, a popular spiritual teacher in CA in the sixties. (His wife, Ina May, wrote the book on midwifery.) We left wearing amazing tie-dyed t-shirts and sharing a pint of Ice Bean, both made on-site. My overall impression was that life on The Farm might be a bit isolated and dull; the vibe I had gotten from book was not there for me. I wasn’t exactly disappointed, but my fantasies about the place were laid to rest.

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posted July 13, 2007 at 11:35 am

Sierra–I am also a fan of Gaskin’s famous midwifery book. Thanks for posting this memory! Yours, CM

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