Author: Chris Roth
Chris Roth edited Talking Leaves: A Journal of Our Evolving Ecological Culture for eight years, and has edited Communities since 2008. A resident member of Lost Valley Educational Center/Meadowsong Ecovillage in Dexter, Oregon, he has lived in intentional community and on organic or permaculture farms most of his adult life. Among other activities, he currently leads nature walks at Mount Pisgah Arboretum and assists at Solsara workshops. Contact him at editor [AT] ic.org. Articles by Chris Roth include: Festivals and Gatherings (Issue # 142) Community in Hard Times (Issue # 144) Ecology and Community (Issue # 143) Searching for Republicans...and Other Elephants in the Community Living Room (Issue # 140) How Ecology Led Me to Community (Issue # 143) Health and Well-Being (Issue # 145) Family (Issue # 146) The Butterfly Effect and the Art (Direction) of Circumstance (Issue # 140) Exploring Family (Issue # 146) Together and Apart; Eden Within Eden (Issue # 146) Thoughts on Power (Issue # 148) Education for Sustainability (Issue # 147) Power and Disempowerment on the Ecobus (Issue # 148) Getting Elder All the Time (Issue # 149) Crazy About Community (Issue # 150) Hopeful New Stories from the Old World (Issue # 150) Intimacy: Past , Present, Future (Issue # 151) On the Road with Communities (Issue # 151) Right Lively 'Hood (Issue # 152) The Growing Edge, Additional Permaculture Resources, and Herbal Medicine from the Heart of the Earth (Issue # 153) Permaculture 101 and Attending to Zone Zero (Issue # 153) The Economics of Happiness (Issue # 154) Common Ground in an Uncertain World (Issue # 154) The Lighter Side of Community (Issue # 155) Group Works (Issue # 156) An Ecovillage Future (Issue # 156) Endings and Beginnings (Issue # 157) Gratitude, Loss, Rebirth, and Community (Issue # 157) Cycling toward Sustainable Community (Issue # 157) Conmunity Wisdom for Everyday Life (Issue # 159) The Encyclopedic Guide to American Intentional Communities (Issue # 159) The Rhythm of Rutledge (Issue # 159) Affording Communities (Issue # 158) Youth in Community (Issue # 160) Health and Quiet (Issue # 145) Confessions of a Fallen Eco-Warrior (Issue # 161) Gender: Is There a “There” There? (Issue #162)
Escaping to an ecotopian or intact natural world proves neither possible nor effective as a way to avoid the realities of human and planetary suffering. Instead, a communitarian receives lessons in interconnectedness that he will never forget.
Communities issue #182, Spring 2019, Community Land, shares stories about how intentional community projects can gain access to land. It asks provocative questions about land, people, privilege, and the obstacles that prevent communities (particularly disadvantaged communities) from reconnecting to land―and offers inspiring stories of overcoming those barriers to achieve more equity and sustainability. Just as access to land depends on community in some form, community often depends on and derives its vitality from a group’s relationship to land. The issue highlights the interdependence of our selves, our human communities, and the lands which steward (and are stewarded by) our presence.
Full immersion in a residential intentional community transforms over the course of a decade and a half into a much wider experience of community.
How does living in intentional community shape our daily experience? What distinguishes a culture which emphasizes “community” from one that does not? What skills and awareness do we need to co-create a resilient collaborative culture? How can lessons and wisdom from intentional communities benefit the world at large? What can we learn from organically-emerging “unintentional” communities? In Communities’ Winter 2018 issue, “The Culture of Intentional Community,” authors explore all these questions and more, sharing insights they’ve gained from their own wide-ranging experiences.
It’s still possible to make it a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
Just as no person is an island, no intentional community is an island. ICs are connected to other communities and cooperative groups locally, regionally, nationally, internationally—whether those connections are actively cultivated or simply present in shared participation in a cooperative experience. Intentional cultivation of those ties—the fostering of networks—can make each participant group stronger and more resilient. In Communities’ “Networking Communities” issue (Fall 2018, #180), authors share their journeys in exploring and creating networks—among communitarians, among communities, even among networks of communities and among communities researchers. They discuss the joys and benefits as well as trials and tribulations of organizing networking gatherings, of attempting to address social justice, ecological, and related challenges through collective visioning and action, of working toward an equitable and regenerative future in concert with others, of exploring the edges of cultural evolution, of learning from others’ experiences as well as their own. They talk about the potential of further networking to help us create the future we want to see. We hope you’ll draw helpful information, inspiration, and insight from their stories. Once again, the issue is available via free/by donation digital download at ic.org/communities.
Helen Zuman’s debut book describes in detail her six-year-long involvement with a radical intentional community that also fits many people’s definition of “cult.”
For reasons both practical and ideological, intentional community has long been a hotbed of eco-building activity. In Communities’ “Eco-Building” issue (Summer 2018, #179), authors share their eco-building journeys, ranging from nearly-free stick-framed shelters to high-end green developments. They examine how to assess whether a building is actually “eco,” hard choices they’ve needed to make, the benefits and challenges of taking on eco-building projects in community, or of retrofitting vs. building new, and much more. Once again, the issue is available via free/by donation digital download at ic.org/communities.
The Spring 2018 edition of Communities, focused on “Class, Race, and Privilege,” is now available for free download from ic.org/communities. The issue looks unflinchingly at a major “elephant in the room”—the relative lack of racial and class diversity in most ICs, at least in North America—while suggesting ways of recognizing, understanding, and addressing it. Authors share stories of obstacles they’ve encountered (from both sides of the privilege equation) and positive steps they and their groups have taken to move toward greater inclusivity and equity. They also reflect honestly on the deep-rootedness of unconscious racism, of social and cultural barriers, of problems of power, privilege, classism, “white fragility,” and more.
Our Winter 2017 issue, Urban Communities, takes readers on a journey from the US East Coast through middle America to the West Coast, then to Canada and overseas. The communities featured span an equally broad range—from communes to cohousing, from outward-focused to more inward-focused, from retrofit to custom-built, from ecovillages, intentional neighborhood projects, and service-oriented groups to broader efforts to expand and strengthen the urban commons. As our stories make clear, and despite popular preconceptions, in many ways no setting is better suited to intentional community than an urban one—and, even short of full intentional community, city-dwellers have many, ever-evolving options for creating more connection, mutual support, and sharing in their lives.
Our Fall issue, sponsored in part by the Communal Studies Association, focuses on Learning from the Past. Current communitarians reflect on lessons from their own and their communities’ histories, and on inspiration from historical communities that inform their own efforts. Students of communalism share the outcomes of their research, including recipes for success and failure and other insights from past and present communities. Community seekers and founders describe what they’ve learned so far. Throughout, we explore how learning from the past can help us navigate the present and move toward a more vibrant, functional, cooperative future.
Economics in cooperative culture—the focus of our Summer issue—is expressed in myriad forms
From cohousing developments to gift-economy activist camps, from spiritual communities to mobile home parks, from income-sharing communities to intentional neighborhoods, people across a wide range of economic circumstances and approaches are discovering the benefits of cooperative economics. Their stories suggest new ways of “stewarding our home” and transitioning into a more inclusive and sustainable future.
As a climate solutions advocate explains, carbon is not a bad thing; it’s often just in the wrong places right now.
From the personal to the global, with hard times undeniable, community may be our life-support.
Our Spring issue examines how intentional communities and other groups are responding to the challenges presented by climate change. Through stories from more than a dozen diverse communities, we learn about steps being taken both to mitigate the intensity of climate disruption and to adapt to its effects. Innovative approaches include carbon onsetting, biochar production and use, personal/spiritual work, strategies for fossil-fuel-freedom, and more.
The arts of cooperative living—supported tirelessly by the cash-strapped FIC, and worthy now more than ever of financial support—will be as essential as technical skills if our species is to survive on this planet or any other.
Our Winter issue explores both Social Permaculture and the interface of Public and Private in intentional community. Starhawk and her colleagues share wisdom from the cutting edge of social permaculture practice, while diverse communitarians discuss how they find balance between the collective and the individual, openness and self-protection, outer-world activism and internal focus. We also learn about Sociocracy missteps, legal structures that help groups put their best feet forward (or not), and more.
Our Fall issue explores Service and Activism in intentional communities. Authors share their stories of living and working in both service- and activist-oriented groups, including Camphill communities, Innisfree Village, Gesundheit!, Konohana Family, Magic, Black Bulga, and more. How do service and activism build community, both within a group and in the larger world? How can communitarians contribute to the well-being of the planet and its people? We also explore how long-standing, mission-focused communities—including Harbin Hot Springs, ZEGG, and EcoVillage at Ithaca—have evolved over time, and the latest research about happiness in community.
In our Summer issue, the Global Ecovillage Network, Gaia Trust, and the FIC partner to offer stories of pioneering efforts worldwide by communities working to incorporate the four dimensions of sustainability: social, ecological, economic, and worldview. We explore local solutions to global problems, creating carbon-negative communities, restoring our relationships to one another and the land, learning from indigenous groups, ecovillage strategies in areas of crisis, and more.
Those seeking an intentional community are often faced with a choice: find it, or found it? Whether looking to join an existing community or working to start a new one, aspiring communitarians can glean invaluable lessons from the experiences of other seekers and pioneers. Our Spring issue is full of success stories, cautionary tales, adventures, reflections, advice, and resources for anyone interested in Finding or Starting a Community.
Our new issue, supported by High Wind Association, explores the many forms community can take.
Community can take many forms other than “intentional.” In our Winter issue, veterans of the High Wind Association network and others share their experiences exploring and cultivating community both within and outside of intentional community settings.
Community and the Law can be uneasy bedfellows. Some intentional communities are hobbled by legal restrictions—especially zoning, building codes, and permitting requirements—or by other effects, both within and outside the group, of a complaint-driven legal system. Yet some groups are able to forge new approaches and help change codes and laws to support more cooperative and resilient ways of living. In “Community and the Law,” authors share on-the-ground stories and guidance for others hoping to coexist peacefully and productively with the Law.
Engaging in collective food-production is like making our own music together: it’s both difficult and rewarding, especially with diverse players involved.