March 01, 2005

Intentional Communities

Should anyone be wondering what kinds of things they are missing out on by not sending their children to a hippie German school, here is an e-mail I received this morning through our school listserv:

Would anyone here be seriously interested in starting an intentional community? My husband and I have been looking around for some property to build a house (hopefully straw bale with at least partial solar power). The thought occurred to me that others might be interested in doing the same. I'm not thinking a commune with bunkhouses - more along the lines of a well-designed small neighborhood with some community property (play area, garden, maybe a community house).

My husband and I were heartened to know that there might still be some idea of private property within the community, but I don't think we're going to sign up.


Straw bale? Did she get this idea from the three little pigs story?

Posted by: Frazier at March 1, 2005 09:22 AM

Straw bale houses were fairly popular for construction in Alaska. I think straw is supposed to be a good insulator and you pack it down tightly so that The Big Bad Wolf can't blow it down too easily.

Posted by: Jordana at March 1, 2005 09:25 AM

Straw bale housing is a tree-hugger favorite. They do have good insulation properties so you don't have to "think pink" (fiberglass insulation). They're good if you enjoy "mudding".

If you want to see an "intentional community" taken to the extreme, go rent "The Village" (Shyamalan's fourth film). It had mixed reviews but I enjoyed it (not enough to buy it though).

Posted by: MarcV at March 1, 2005 10:32 AM

It WOULD be nice, though, to live in a community with real neighbors instead of our insular family units. I've often thought it would be much easier to build up appropriate Christian relationships with our church friends if we lived closer together- say within walking distance. Just like college!

Posted by: Lenise at March 1, 2005 11:48 AM

Neighbors are really nice. We know a lot of ours and have a great voluntary neighborhood association. It's a blessing indeed to be able to call up your neighbors and ask for help or just to be able to stop and chat with them when you are out and about. I feel like we can leave town and our neighbors are looking out for us and our house. We still have an alarm, but having neighbors who are friends does make a world of difference.

On the other hand, I have one friend who lives on the same block as several people she goes to church with, Lenise. She often expresses a desire to move. I think it may be too much fellowship.

Posted by: Jordana at March 1, 2005 12:12 PM

Out here we call it something like "co-housing". It has never struck me as a bad idea; I'm just not sure how well it would work for a couple of introverts.

OTOH, we've lived in this neighborhood about four years now and I can count on the fingers of one hand the names I know. This little town is _the_ most intensely private place we ever have lived, including Paris.

Posted by: Patricia at March 1, 2005 07:36 PM

In many ways this would describe our Yishuv; a small community, self-owned or rented single and two family homes, varous parks and community centeres. Small is nice, at least to me, and unless I'm misunderstanding that is what she wants. My younger ones like it, the bigger kids would have preferred city life--movies, stores, more compact but more emotional distance from the neighbors...

Posted by: Rachel Ann at March 3, 2005 07:41 AM

Rachel Ann, that really sounds good for the soul. I know I could use some practice in building relationships that are strong enough to cover some brutal honesty here and there. Obviously, it's not an exclusively Christian virtue.

Posted by: Lenise at March 3, 2005 11:11 AM