Our vision is pulling for the residential intentional community movement and re-villaging movements. We see a future of local resilience and mutually supportive in-person relationships, where both unity and diversity can be maintained. This allows for individual and group choices to be negotiated at many levels below the one-size-fits all national level of mandates. In other words, we believe grassroots efforts to meet social needs locally is often more effective than demanding large-scale government solutions. Our vision and mission is to promote and assist these local efforts.
The ICmatch website supports this vision by fostering the success of new founders groups planning startup intentional communities. Our core values include diversity and non-rivalry. We support people of all creeds and lifestyles to find each other to establish shared housing and/or shared land, along with other types of resource sharing. We seek to foster the skills to function effectively and fairly with whatever governance style a group chooses. We seek to serve those intent to build up a better world through collaboration with as wide a circle as they choose, from a variety of political backgrounds. We promote establishing truce with those outside ones circle, instead of focusing on blame and identification of enemies. We seek to serve those who reject violence, except as a truly defensive last resort that does not include “pre-emptive strikes.”
Main Resources ICmatch Provides
ICmatch provides these resources for intentional community formation:
- matching community seekers with compatible others
- helping founder groups access qualified and affordable consultants
- creating databases of relevant funding sources available to independent groups and non-profits
- curating and creating informational resources for a variety of intentional community types
While, these resources can be used by existing intentional communities, our emphasis is on serving groups in the founding phase.
Social Goals of the Intentional Community Movement
These are some of the main societal pain points that intentional communities can help resolve: (a) affordable housing crisis, (b) loneliness epidemic, (c) failures of social safety net, (d) local food supply chain vulnerability, and (d) ecological degradation. The following sections discuss each of these.
Some intentional community members have found that sharing resources—such as vehicles, laundry rooms, and recreation facilities—has offered them a high quality of life that’s affordable. Unfortunately, often cohousing has been out of the price range of people with low incomes. In addition, low-income groups seeking to create new affordable housing solutions don’t have the capacity to hire lawyers to work on zoning issues that can take years to resolve. It’s encouraging that many cohousing projects have intentionally included some slots for lower incomes. Yet there simply aren’t enough of these for the millions of people barely making ends meet month-to-month. We need a diverse set of solutions that includes smaller informal arrangements. ICmatch can help open up previously unavailable rental spaces in creative but legal ways. Some houses have an attached unit that’s semi-private, with some shared space such as a laundry room or entryway. It doesn’t always make sense to advertise it traditionally, because you may end up with a six month lease with someone who has disruptive habits. ICmatch can help establish a high level of compatibility that helps people feel comfortable with giving a chance to people they don’t know well. This can sometimes be a non-conventional arrangement that might include some work-trade for a lower rent.
Belonging and Compassion
Increasingly the cultural mandate is that we don’t want or need to rely on each other’s good will. In the Western world we’ve largely bought into a system where we increasingly pay for whatever we need. Families are a lot smaller than they used to be, and people move for economic opportunities, away from families and other social networks. That seemingly gives us a lot of freedom, but one out of four Americans reports that they don’t have even one person they consider a trusted confidante. The U.S. Surgeon General warns that the loneliness epidemic is a large contributor to failures of health and longevity.
Adequate Care for the Vulnerable
Much has been said about the inadequate social safety net, especially in the U.S. It seems that no one is happy with the large scale one-size-fits-all government services. It costs too much (says the political right) and is too challenging to navigate (says people utilizing the services), beside being inadequate (says the left). Pointing toward a social good that had similar politically divided arguments, the charter school movement gained bipartisan support as it offered new locally-accountable and locally-governed options. Similarly, residential intentional communities are a way to meet specific social services in a targeted and equitable manner. Local groups drawing on private or government grant funding use small-scale but intensive resource management to create opportunity. Effective local governance includes making sure everyone has a way to contribute meaningfully, so no one is unduly pressed to bear the burdens of others. On a small scale, it’s more feasible to hold both providers and receivers accountable to each other.
Local Food Security
Many of us had never considered the possibility of supply chain disruptions, unless we paid attention to the plight of people stuck in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a natural disaster, external emergency services may not be able to supply an area with its basic needs quickly or adequately. There is funding available for increasing local resilience thru local food security programs. Some intentional communities organize around a CSA (community supported agriculture) that ensures locals have access to quality affordable produce that isn’t shipped across continents.
On one extreme, ecovillages often employ renewable energy sources and safe recycling of human waste as examples of lifestyles with close to zero pollution. Many DIY communities use re-purposed or salvaged materials and practice voluntary simplicity. On the other extreme is cohousing that might look like condos with a monthly potluck. But even these more privacy-oriented cohousing communities have shared spaces and shared resources that if rented or purchased separately would be much more expensive and resource consuming. All types of residential intentional communities play some part in creating environmentally sustainable lifestyles.