In The Fourth Turning, Marshall (1997) defines the purposes of community as (a) resilience versus economic subservience, which could also be defined as voluntary simplicity; (b) spirituality, which could be defined simply as service and equity; (c) a center of research, documenting progression of new ideas. This website intends to help you develop self-sufficiency so you can disconnect yourself from systems of exploitation, then help others to co-create intentional communities.
The most invisible type of intentional community, that looks fairly mainstream from the outside, is to join two to five houses in sharing resources. Starting small and gradual in that way could work best for some. For stories from mostly millennials who have done it successfully and recently, for legal and financial tips, for decision-making strategies, sharing and boundaries, see supernuclear.substack.com.
Staying power for group cohesion is developed by recognizing that differences can become strengths instead of weaknesses. In a setting in which we cannot dominate but only attract, we have to become responsible for increasing our maturity, working out disagreements, and nurturing the well being of others. Community is living with friends. It’s a chosen family. There are many emotional benefits to living in a well-functioning community.
Community has many benefits for family groups as well as individuals. Community provides social engagement and sense of belonging, which is not only enjoyable but also practical, for mental health maintenance. Community offers unending opportunities for self-development, for putting in practice our convictions. Community has practical functions that include having backup “service providers” that you don’t have to pay for as insurance, or people who share with you the expense of insurance.
Community is also challenging. A lot can go wrong. Unkindness, lack of privacy, addictions, conflicts, potential for infidelity, and social loafing can all seem exacerbated in a community setting. Yet, by creating isolated lives, we don’t escape from these common human problems. We simply keep them at a distance so we don’t have to see it as much, or we can blame the government when these human problems happen on a larger societal scale. Isolation prevents us from the enjoyment of helping and from the accountability inherent in small groups that know others by reputation, and can evaluate individual needs more accurately. Another common complaint is that intentional communities tend to have characteristics of cults. It is important to be aware of the potential for being taken advantage of, but religions and governments can and sometimes do take advantage in similar ways. At ICmatch we try to give you a realistic view of challenges, as well as ways to overcome them.
In North America, our individualistic culture has created norms that create anxiety about interdependence. Even among families there often isn’t a common understanding of how to do communal living well. Reportedly of the groups who try to build a community, only roughly a tenth even get thru the property purchase stage (Christian, 2003). This might not sound like good odds, but neither do our national governments have it all figured out. We haven’t learned how to do large scale governance well either. The point is, humans are still working out governance and cooperation on a small and large scale, so it’s not fair to say communal living simply doesn’t work. In some cultures that follow long-standing traditions, it does work.
Those interested could find an existing intentional community to join, thru several websites that catalog them, including ic.org/directory. Alternately, if your ideas or needs don’t match an available IC, you might find other people who share your preference for a specific location and ideas for community. When designing a new intentional community, it’s necessary to discuss various ownership models, leadership styles, and succession planning. We are here to guide you thru it. Take a look at the Start page in the menu, for a step-by-step guide to how you can use this site.