Increasing Local Resilience

Our mission could be described as re-villaging. This means increasing local resilience and mutually supportive relationships.

ICmatch provides three main resources for intentional community formation:

  • matching potential community members with compatible others
  • helping founder groups access qualified and affordable consultants
  • curating and creating informational resources for a variety of intentional community types

These resources can be used by existing intentional communities, but our emphasis is on serving groups in the founding phase. There are four main societal pain points that intentional communities can help resolve: (a) affordable housing crisis, (b) loneliness epidemic, (c) failures of social safety net, and (d) ecological degradation. The following sections discuss each of these.

Affordable Housing Crisis

Some intentional community members have found that sharing resources—such as cars, 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. Many low-income groups 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 communities. ICmatch can help open up previously unavailable rental spaces. 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 for 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.

Loneliness Epidemic

Increasingly the cultural mandate is that we don’t want or need to rely on each other. 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 confidant.

Failures of Social Safety Nets

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, beside being inadequate (says the left). The charter school movement gained bipartisan support as it offered new locally-accountable and locally-governed options. Similarly, 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. Increasing local resilience includes making sure everyone has a way to contribute meaningfully. 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.

Ecological Degradation

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. On the other extreme is cohousing that might look like condos with a monthly potluck. But even these more privacy-oriented communities have shared spaces and shared resources that if rented or purchased separately would be much more expensive and resource consuming.

woman planting plant during daytime