037 – Intentional community

Published 6 years ago in Permaculture , Podcasts - 0 Comments

Paul and Jocelyn begin a conversation about all of the possibilities, downfalls and challenges of an intentional community Paul begins with underscoring that any community is about getting along whether it is where you live or on a forum like permies.

He describes this podcast as a confluence of potentially helpful observations, beginning with being noble. Paul feels that only 5% of the population is noble; more often than not, people are generally just people. When things get tough or awkward, 90% will scatter or worsen the
situation.

Jocelyn talks about Paul’s experiences and experiments on this topic: he has run a house, run sites, run workshops on communities, forums and managed a farm. “Paul has experience, done research and attempts to avoid problems that he’s experienced in the past”. One of his biggest concerns with most attempts at intentional communities is that they are
designed with the expectation that everyone will be noble. Paul feels that any community has to be based on a system that includes the reality that people are human. One bad guy can bring it all down. He does a quick mathematical example where 50% of all marriages fail and that’s a community of 2 people or 1 relationship. Increase the community to 12 people where there are over 100 individual relationships and those are only surface relationships; once you add different layers of relationships, like work relationship, business relationships, role hierarchy etc., there are many 100s of specific relationships within this group of 12 people.

They talk about Diana Leafe Christian, the author of 2 premier books on communities: Creating a Life Together and Finding a Community. Paul’s attended one of her workshops and posed a question to her about intention communities with a central leader. She dubbed it a “thief-
dom” comparing it to a lord and his peasants and feels it would only be good for the lord.

Diana supports democratic communities where every aspect is agreed on by the inhabitants.
This approach is slow to change as alternatives to original suggestions are the norm which then have to be discussed, voted on, changed some more etc. As a result of this very slow to change community, other communities have agreed that suggestions for a change will move forward as long as only 2 or 3 vote against it. A true democratic society, where the majority rule of 51% adopts a change, rarely works in this communal environment since you may have 40%+ unhappy people as a result.

Basically there are 3 types of communities: 1. Dictator 2. General Consensus 3. Democratic. Regardless of the structure, most intentional communities fail and both Paul and Jocelyn share
personal stories, experiences and experiments.

This is such an important topic and I hope it is revisited often. Desire for these communities seems be increasing with the challenges present in today’s world.

Relevant Threads

False Dichotomy of Feudalism vs. Consensus
Non-consensus IC models
Creating a Life Together by Diana Leafe Christian

Credit:Mariane Cicala

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