Throughout the week we have had the opportunity to talk many people with various living situations, some in close knit intentional communities and some living more individually. When examining the community vs. individual living through a capitalist lens, community living seems to be more of a burden than a blessing, as values like equity, unity and consensus lessen the individualist benefits of capitalism. When looking through a permaculture or subsistence living lens, the benefits of community living become immediately apparent; many hands do indeed may light(er) work. When you are trying to garden, raise or hunt animals, build, and make some money all at once, isolation and individual living are often an uphill battle. Therefor community living would seem like the obvious choice right?…maybe not. Although you have more hands to do work, how do you divide the work? Who does what? When do they do it? What goes where? What if I don’t like the job I’m given? You could have all these questions AND MORE if you live in an intentional community! Is it worth the trouble? Ultimately it’s up to your personal preference.
Living on Linnaea farm for a week gave me a sense of both the trials and triumphs of community living. From on onlookers perspective, the farm functions beautifully. The sheep, cows and chickens are happy, the people get fed amazingly and this place… this place is full of life and love – but it’s a lot of work. All decision making is done by consensus, which takes a long time and sometimes it seems as though not everyone is happy with the decisions that are being made. When talking to the members of the community I got the sense that there is a lot of give and take involved in living in this community.
From the conversations we have had with those living on the farm, I have extracted some guidelines for community living:
1.) Be open to change, accept that your specific image or outcome of a situation may not come into fruition.
2.) Don’t compromise too much, you run the risk of feeling you have no contribution to community decisions.
3.) Collaborate to create a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship.
4.) Take time away, spend time alone – re-balance.
5.) Recognize that you and those in your community share the same basic values- happiness, health, feeling valued, health for the earth and humans, sustainability and hope for a better future.
After a week at Linnaea I will have to say that I have shifted some of my personal views toward community living vs. individual living. It has helped me see the value and beauty in collaboration and what can be achieved when humans actively work together to create something beautiful.