What Makes Living in an Intentional Community Different?

Friends showing thumb upIntentional communities are not ordinary communities that we normally see or know. Usually when we live in a neighbourhood, we do not get to choose who we live in close proximity with. Sometimes they are welcoming and send pies or visit new neighbours but there are others who do not know who lives next door to them. With intentional communities, people actually have a harmonious relationship with each other through community-wide activities or their daily interactions with each other.

In a normal society, there are roles that must be played by the people however these roles are not strictly held by an intentional community. A janitor and a manager may have a strict adherence to their working roles but if they live in the same intentional community they shed these roles whenever they come home. If people are bound by their roles even in their own communities then sometimes their potentials are not maximized. In an intentional community, everyone volunteers for a couple of hours per week on an activity they liked best. If this janitor and manager like carpentry they can work together in a house building project without the boss-worker relationship that they normally have. Being a manager in the corporate world will limit you to your job description and people will wonder why you work in manual labour when you can just pay someone for that. But this is not the case with intentional communities, people are equal here and they have the freedom to live life the way they want to.

When living in an intentional community it is possible to feel deep feelings of love for someone who in the normal society you would not even talk to. This is because social masks and roles are shed in this environment and people are free to talk to others. They care more about the people in their surroundings because of everyday interactions and community based activities. Contrary to popular belief, people who live in intentional communities are free and the system is democratic. Living in one is a choice and anyone is also free.

Living in these communities are really different from what people are used to. Here, more important and relevant concerns like family, friends and relationships are treasured.

Living in a Community That Cares

communitiesThe cost of living nowadays is sky high especially if you want to live a healthy and sustainable life. We think that in our world today, we are the only ones who want to live that way because we see all the time how people no longer care about the environment or about their communities in general. A typical scene nowadays would be to live in a condo unit side by side for four years without knowing each other’s names or even the most basic information about their lives. Neighbours have become disposable and not worth knowing. However, we have a choice of no longer living that way. There are a lot of communities that are environment conscious and so preserving has become an everyday activity for them.

Alternative communities range from small to large communities, some have complete privacy while others want the company of other people, they are based on various themes and one of them is the alternative community for people who want to live an eco-friendly life.

An eco-village is a sustainable and environment-friendly community. You also have your choice of living alone or co-habitation and they are not only found in rural areas, there are eco-villages even in upstate New York. An eco village in Ithaca has been thriving for more than 22 years now, you can apply for a short-term program to try if their of life suits you and then you can extend it if you feel that this is the best for you. Their culture is one of cooperation and decision-making is made by everyone. The residents volunteer each week for 3-4 hours on the activity they like most, this is to make life easier for everyone. They have privacy but they also have a common house and area where everyone can meet and know each other, they also eat together a home-cooked meal with ingredients from their own organic farms. Families actually spend time together playing outdoor games, reading, talking with neighbours and talking about substantial issues that are relevant to the world we live in today.

An eco-village is a good place to raise children to be responsible and compassionate. From a young age they have learned how to work together with others and empathize with other people, this is something that is taken away from our children today since most spend their time in front of televisions or different gadgets. In a community like this, real relationships are made.

Intentional Living Defined

Word cloud for Intentional communityWhen people say intentional communities, most of the time they draw blank faces from others. A lot would think that they died out during the 1960s and1970s but this is not true, there are still communities thriving from long ago and there are new ones recently built. Intentional communities are just like the communities that we have now; however, aside from the same geographic location they also have something more, like teamwork, communal activities and the same visions and principles.

Unlike most of the western communities nowadays where individuality and independence is highly regarded, intentional communities share their resources and responsibilities. And contrary to popular belief, not all intentional communities are the same. They have different goals and purposes. Some are political, spiritual or they want to live in an eco-friendly environment, or they serve other people like war refugees or the disadvantaged.

They are also largely democratic in governance, unlike the common belief that they are authoritarian or they follow a charismatic leader. They decide by holding elections and voting. Only about 9% are authoritarian in nature, more than half are democratic and some are a combination of both. It’s not also true that the members are controlled by hypnotism and the likes. Most people would confuse intentional communities with a cult, “cult” being loosely related to abusive communities, most intentional communities do not want media attention thus their lifestyle is usually quiet and peaceful.

Privacy would depend on the community you want to belong to. Some communities like monasteries or retreat houses have little privacy and they commune every now and then. But there are those who have complete autonomy like that of the mainstream housing area.

This only shows that intentional communities are not all alike. There are different communities for an individual to choose from and it is up to them to evaluate these communities. Living in an intentional community is not all long-term, they also have programs or probationary periods wherein you can assess yourself whether you are fit for the intentional community living. Here you will be able to develop not only your skills but also your relationship with your family and the whole community. Because there is a pool of resources and teamwork, one could find more time for more important things like relationships.