Different types of Community Initiativest
There is a distinction between types of community that explore new models of socio environmental and/or spiritually inclined living,
Intentional communities requiring a close interactive living lifestyle
For many people making their first visit to an existing intentional community it is a challenge simply because they are unsure what to expect. Yes there are challenges, but the rewards are great too!
On our Links page there are community listings for U.K., Europe and beyond. Most listings give you some idea about the community's focus, so if you are serious about visiting, you can short list. Make a habit of writing or emailing in advance as most communities dont like people dropping in.
Another way to visit rural communities is to join W.W.O.O.F (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) where practical help is always valued in a land-based community. This way you will get experience of organic growing as well as a flavour of community life without feeling you are the odd one out.
Eco villages and the Global Environmental Network
Ecovillages are urban or rural communities of people, who strive to integrate a supportive social environment with a low-impact way of life. To achieve this, they integrate various aspects of ecological design, permaculture, ecological building, green production, alternative energy, community building practices, and much more.
An eco-village is intended to be a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable intentional community. Most aim for a population of 50-150 individuals because this size is considered to be the maximum social network.
Listings of Eco villages are accessed and identified mostly through the internet and within environmental networks. Individually they each have variations on a sustainable eco-spiritual vision
How people build and live is a measurably important part in assessing the group's carbon footprint.
The Findhorn Foundation in Scotland, has been a low carbon pioneering ecovillage since 1985. In addition, in Europe there is now a network of 10 communities: Sieben Linden, Damanhur, Tamera, Valle de Sensaciones, Matavenero, Schloss Glarisegg, Schloss Tonndorf, Krishna Valley, La Borie Noble, Finca Tierra.
Transition Town Initiatives
This initiative was seeded in Ireland and quickly spread to Totnes in U.K. It has since spread worldwide with 863 groups in 34 countries. The film "In Transition" is currently available in 12 languages. Their website (see links page) has been visited by some 300,000 viewers from 207 countries.
Transition is a people based response to the two biggest challenges, climate change and looking beyond the use of fossil fuels (given that oil is becoming increasingly difficult and costly to extract in energy terms).
Central to Transition town initiatives is community spirit because:-
1. They put people in touch with local skills and resources.
2. Provides opportunity for locally grown food and products to be marketed/exchanged
3. Encourages barter systems.
4. Ensures old tried and tested ways of land usage, crafts and skills are not forgotten by the next generation.
5. Opens possibilities for seed banks to save rare varieties of non-hybridized/non G.M. seed.
6. Develops confidence in sharing resources e.g. cars, bikes, equipment.
A natural progression in the spirit of community is emerging as internet usage develops and puts people in touch with each other.
Parallel Community, inspiration of Hamish Miller of dowsing fame, is adding another network of like- minded people who are committed to the precious values that hold meaningfully supportive people together in these turbulent times.
Search for "community" on Google and examples are as wide and varied as there are fish in the sea. But by narrowing the definition, community simply means a body of people who hold a common interest. It may be religious or secular. As examples of one kind of early community, religious orders, go back many hundreds of years.
This page focuses on a particular social movement, which some would describe as alternative but I prefer to describe as cutting edge for social change.
Since the mid 1950?s, a reaction to the way society was heading in the U.S.A. and Europe has been swelling, brought about by groups of people with a desire to share common interests,... environmental, economic, social and political reasons. People have reconnected with the awareness of their strength in group action. (2+2 = at least 5 energetically). The more adventurous, formed intentional communities, sharing their lives for mutual benefit.
The essential elements of community became a touchstone sparking many initiatives; some of these communities are thriving 50 years on as a beneficial way of living. I remember in those early post W.W.2 days, the work of B.F. Skinner (Behavioral Scientist) sparked a genus of social experimenters which led to the formation of communities like Walden Two and Twin Oaks (1967) in the States. The community idea then evolved through communes in the Hippy era of the 60's, transiting to eco-spiritual communities and eco-villages of the 80?s. Community for now, has become an expression of 'Thinking Globally but acting locally'.
Another man who influenced my views on the importance of community was meeting with visionary architect Paolo Soleri at the Arcosanti Community (U.S.A.), which he designed for sustainable, creative and harmonious living in the desert near Phoenix, Arizona. On one occasion I asked him how he felt the community direction was developing in relation to his vision. He replied, 'I make the violin, they play the tune'. Thirty four years later, his visionary tune is as strong as ever.
Returning to U.K., after lengthy discussion with Chris Mattingly ( pioneer of Postlip Hall and Cannon Froom) I set about creating Old Hall, a land-based organic farming community in Suffolk. 30 years of experience in this community brought much joy, many challenging experiences but enabled me to 'walk my talk' with honesty and integrity. I learnt skills from cheese making to conflict resolution, from orchard management to cooking wholesome food for some 30 people. Milk came from our cows; carrots for dinner were often dug from the ground by the cook. I could never have had these experiences if I had lived in an ordinary family home
So why is the ideal of community so important now?
Collectively the human race is increasingly out of balance with the natural world. We have learnt to dominate all other species and our collective actions of destruction; exploitation and damage can only lead us as a species toward our own extinction.
Genetically we are all one family (species) on Mother Earth ? but the way we are behaving at present indicates a dis-eased condition. In the same way our individual physical body can develop a disease, so too can the collective body of humanity become diseased. What is vital to grasp is that our collective dis-eased condition has the ability to bring about our death as a species within our or our children?s lifetime.
We each have three alternatives ahead of us:
Joining existing community initiatives, of which more is explained in Community Living what does it mean, is a practical sensible step for anyone to consider under the third option. Great benefits emerge from new forms of community, both for the individual, as well as for local networking and beyond. People regain a feeling they are in control of their lives and connected with their fellow beings.
The act of becoming some way involved in community with a purposeful focus- i.e. environmental/spiritual, encourages us to reconnect with the natural world by growing our own food and celebrating the cycles of time together.
Human evolution should not be thought of solely in the Darwinian concept. Human evolution is emotional, mental and spiritual - way beyond the physical evolution stage. By intentional choice of each as individuals as well as through our collective consciousness, access higher faculties within our brains. The world stage is set for an evolution, not simply to avert our annihilation, but to realise who we really are within the 'Galactic Plan'.
It is up to each of us, wherever we live, to choose to effect meaningful changes.
It is up to us to make the difference, to encourage responsible Earth guardianship, with every step we take upon this beautiful planet.
Searching for a way of looking at the world that's not simply human, expresses a powerful human impulse. We search through distant galaxies looking for signs of life. We weave elaborate ceremonial patterns of spiritual ritual in the name of religion to establish our relationship with a divine source.
Yet we overlook what often stares us in the face.
If planet Earth is our house and garden, albeit a large one, it will repay us well if we give urgent consideration to managing it much better than at present because the resources we are using are the equivalent to one and one third planet Earths.
We hear this word sustainable being used much these days. We are also daily confronted with news about The Economy.
Entomologicaly, the word "economy" is from a Greek word which means to 'manage a household; This may be stretched to embrace oneself as an individual because it is a useful way to describe the sum of all the parts of a person as a house. Well the management prospects are not looking good if we are using resources of one and one third planet Earth's.
This too, is where the word currency comes into play. For with an economy, it is logical to have currency a means by which exchange of energy has a value. In practice energy exchange is being devalued by selfish motives and protectionism, which leads to conflict, starvation and illness.
For the worlds problems to have a lasting solution there must be a radical rethink. It is no good talking about economic growth any longer. The so-called economic crisis is just what we want in order to rethink what humanity is doing to the planet. Gross consumerism, retail therapy, buying for the sake of it, are in effect crimes against all life forms on Mother Earth and that includes the future generations of humans.
There are key factors in bringing about human evolution.
Nine negative key factors inhibiting or arresting our evolution are:
Nine positive key factors are
The Indigenous peoples of north and south America have challenged inappropriate consumption by offering a new (but in reality old) way of understanding currency.
The seven Global Currencies they have identified as fundamental to life are;
The air, winds and atmosphere
The waters, the clouds, waterways, rivers and streams and oceans.
The Sacred Species: Buffalo, Deer, Salmon & Eagle
Corn, Beans, Squash (agriculture)
Land and territory, Mother Earth
The Sharers of Life
Community and Nations
The Seed of Life
Spirit - Light