Because of his extensive travels visiting Intentional Communities (more than 350), Geoph may be the most widely-known communitarian. Some notable communitarians are best known for their media exposure or their works (publications, founding communities, workshops, etc.). Geoph would be better known for his works if he hadn’t been so busy forming so many direct, face-to-face, up-close and personal connections with communitarians in so many intentional communities. For decades, Geoph broke bread with thousands of communitarians – one community at a time. His relaxed, comfortable style, and gentle sense of humor made him a most welcome guest at many a table.
Geoph continued to embrace new opportunities to grow community through networking, until his death by pancreatic cancer, at home, in his sleep, the afternoon of October 22, 2007. Geoph is remembered in a memorial article by Laird Schaub.
As part of his community networking work, Geoph would arrive at your community (after pre-arranging his visits) with thousands of 35mm slides. These photos were shot on earlier visits to other communities. After visiting with your community for a day or two (during which he would add photos to his slide library), he would then build a custom slide show to share with your community. He shared stories of other communities that he felt would be of the greatest value for your community. Geoph Kozeny shows were reported to have had deep impact on some communities… helping some clarify their un-intentional patterns in a manner that encouraged positive change.
Before the web, Geoph’s visits were one of the few ways that stories of other communities and the movement might come right into the homes of communitarians who didn’t travel to “community events.” It was exciting to hear this community troubadour as he reminded us of our role in a larger movement. Some communities learned that they were not alone, that relatively isolated communities had sister and brother communities. As technology and networking options evolved, so did Geoph. Over the years, he added video and digital technologies to his tool bag.
In 1978, Geoph helped found a collective house in San Francisco called Stardance… it changed names to become the Purple Rose Collective, a shared household of cooperative activists. He lived there for many years and continues to live there part-time, as well as part-time at The Farm, the very well known IC in Tennessee founded by Stephen Gaskin. In the early days of his life at Purple Rose, Geoph contributed to a Bay Area community newsletter, The Communal Grapevine which eventually morphed into The Collective Networker. He was also a core member of the collective that produced several annual editions of The West Coast Directory of Collectives, and was a primary force behind the ongoing monthly “communal housing raps” which brought together people seeking housing and shared houses with openings (plus a potluck dinner and usually a lively discussion on some relevant shared housing topic).
Geoph joined the FIC board in 1988 and was instrumental in its reinvigoration and its early projects. Before there was a Communities Directory, Geoph was the coordinator of listings in the community directory project. This database eventually formed the seed for the book and now website. Geoph was one of the main organizer on the first two editions of the Communities Directory (1990, 1995) managing the database and layout and taking many photos and editing articles. Without his tireless efforts the Directory and the communities movement would not be what it is today.
Lately, Geoph has been working with FIC Board members Fred Lanphear and Raines Cohen, among others, to form the FIC Regional Networking Committee, a group working to support increased networking among communitarians and activists. To quote Geoph, from the FIC Regional Networking Committee internal wiki: “I’ve been interested in and “on the list” of regional networking ever since FIC started talking about it more than a decade ago. In my self-appointed role as a “community networker” i run across all sorts of opportunities to gather info and make connections, and i am interested in being more active in recruiting and mentoring regional and local networkers who will promote the idea of “community,” provide local organizing and resources, and also spread word of the FIC and it’s incredibly valuable projects and resources.”
Geoph has been a frequent presenter at Communities conferences, including FIC Art of Community events.
Visions of Utopia
Geoph is the creator of Visions of Utopia – a wonderful video available from the FIC.
This video has been shown all over the world, in communities, by community seekers, by academics, at conferences, etc. It was reviewed in the now defunct Talking Leaves, a print magazine published by Lost Valley Intentional Community and Educational Center.
An interesting letter by Geoph about the video is also available. A number of people have personally purchased multiple copies and then sold or given them away to do their part to help promote Intentional Community.
Geoph has done many personal showings (its a lot easier to choose a few communities from this video than sorting through slides). Geoph’s showing are often followed by discussions. NICA has picked up this model and sponsored showings at some Northwest communities. NICA has asked the communities to invite their networks to attend. In 2006/2007, NICA showed it at Maxwelton Creek Cohousing, Winslow Cohousing, and Songaia Cohousing.
Visions of Utopia won an Outstanding Project Award from the Communal Studies Association in 2003
Media featuring Geoph Kozeny
- Radio Open Source – History of Utopia show aired Jan 7, 2007
- San Francisco Examiner – Choose Thy Neighbor article appeared November 27, 2000 (not available online)
- Inclusive Association of Communities – an article by Allen Butcher describing Geoph’s role in re-energizing the communities movement
- Where have all the flower children gone? – excerpt about Geoph from this book
Articles by Geoph Kozeny
For several years, Geoph has been writing The Peripatetic Communitarian, a column appearing on the last page of Communities magazine. At the current time, the only known way to access these columns online is through private, online services which are behind subscription walls. You may be able to access them through your local public library.
Originally appeared in 1995 edition of Community Directory (print version)
Originally appeared in 2000 edition of Community Directory (print version)