Visions of Utopia — Experiments in Sustainable Culture — Volume I & II
A video companion piece to the Communities Directory, Visions of Utopia is a two part video documentary featuring a fascinating brief history of communal living, plus revealing profiles of seventeen diverse contemporary intentional communities.
Visions of Utopia is a great way to experience a sampling of community life “up close.” You can see and hear community members tell their stories in their own words. Volume One of Visions of Utopia Vwas produced and edited by Geoph Kozeny, a veteran community networker, author, and former FIC board member. Though Geoph died before he could complete the editing of Part Two, FIC has completed that work with his blessing.
Watch the Trailer, or Digitally Rent or Download, Visions of Utopia II here:
Visions of Utopia – Part I (94 min) features:
- A brief history of 2500 years of shared living
- Insights about what works and what doesn’t
- Exploration of the “glue” that holds communities together
Plus profiles of 7 contemporary communities:
- Ananda Village (Nevada City CA)
- Breitenbush Hot Springs (Detroit OR)
- Camphill Special School (Glenmoore PA)
- Earthaven (Black Mountain NC)
- Nyland Cohousing (Lafayette CO)
- Purple Rose (San Francisco CA)
- Twin Oaks (Louisa VA)
Visions of Utopia – Part 2 (124 min) features:
Profiles of 10 diverse communities:
- Catholic Worker’s House (San Antonio TX)
- Community Alternatives & Fraser Common Farm (Vancouver & Aldergrove BC)
- The Farm (Summertown TN)
- Ganas (Staten Island NY)
- Goodenough (Seattle WA)
- Hearthaven (Kansas City MO)
- Miccosukee Land Co-op (Tallahassee FL)
- N Street Cohousing (Davis CA)
- Remote Hamlet (CA)
- Sandhill Farm (Rutledge MO)
Communities Featured in Visions of Utopia:
|Ananda Village (’68, Nevada City CA) • Part One
A large spiritual meditation/yoga community in the Sierra foothills, with several sister communities worldwide. Disciples of Yogananda.
|Camphill Special Schools (’61, Glenmoore PA) • Part One
Residential village providing rehabilitation and community for disabled children, who live with the staff families. Inspired by Rudolf Steiner.
|Catholic Worker House (’85, San Antonio TX) • Part Two
Urban ministry to the poor, including a soup kitchen and temporary shelter, support, and referrals for families in need.
|The Farm (’70, Summertown TN) • Part Two
Originally a ’60s hippie spiritual commune, now reorganized with a hybrid economy with over 30 nonprofits & businesses.
Catholic Worker House clip:
The Farm clip:
Rural Egalitarian Communities
|Remote Hamlet (’78, Hundred miles from nowhere, CA) • Part Two
A pioneer village of five families on 40 acres in the middle of nowhere. Simple living, permaculture, outdoor survival skills.
|Sandhill (’74, Rutledge MO) • Part Two
Secular, egalitarian, family-style community with organic farm, shared income and labor and resources, consensus process.
|Twin Oaks (’67, Louisa VA) • Part One
Egalitarian community creating an alternative village culture, with a labor credit system and a planner/manager system of governance.
|Ganas (’80, Staten Island NY) • Part Two
Urban, income-sharing core group, with five community-owned businesses. Primary focus on group “feedback” process.
|Goodenough (’81, Seattle WA) • Part Two
Non-residential community: personal & social transformation; shared spirituality; offering extensive workshops; community businesses.
|Hearthaven (’87, Kansas City MO)
Close-knit cooperatively owned household of close friends; faith based, with Christian/pagan influences; environmental organizers/activists.
|Purple Rose Collective (’78, San Francisco CA) • Part One
An urban collectively owned household with shared meals, chores, expenses, and weekly house meetings.
|Breitenbush (’77, Detroit OR) • Part One
New age retreat & conference center, run by a worker-owned collective, with hot springs, hydro power, and geothermal heat.
|Community Alternatives (’77, Vancouver BC) • Part Two
Cooperatively owned urban apartment house with 9 residential “pods.” Each unit decides its own internal structure and systems.
|Fraser Common Farm (’77, Aldergrove BC) • Part Two
Cooperatively owned organic farm with worker-owned gourmet salad business. Sister community to Community Alternatives (1 hr. away).
|Miccosukee Land Cooperative (’73, Tallahassee FL) • Part Two
Land Co-op with private houses and community-owned roads and common land. Many voluntary programs among the members.
Community Alternatives clip:
Miccosukee Land Co-operative clip:
This clip is from the segment on Miccosukee Land Co-op (MLC) in northern Florida. MLC member Judith Thompson talks about how Miccosukee cooperates in raising their children and helps them resolve conflict.
Cohousing Communities & Ecovillages
|Earthaven (’92, Black Mountain NC) • Part One
Rural ecovillage under construction, teaching permaculture and natural building technologies, operating by consensus.
|N Street (’86, Davis CA) • Part Two
Retrofit cohousing in a 1950s urban neighborhood. 13 households tore down back yard fences for common gardens & play areas.
|Nyland Cohousing (’93, Boulder CO) • Part One
Suburban, large (42 units),very diverse cohousing community built from the ground up. Consensus based pedestrian village.
N Street Cohousing clip:
This clip is from the segment on N Street Cohousing, where founder Kevin Wolf talks about how community is a deep need for people.
Letter from the Producer & Director, Geoph Kozeny
The Visions of Utopia project was launched by Geoph Kozeny in 1997. Although he originally hoped to complete it in three years, his life was cut unexpectedly short by pancreatic cancer in 2007-with the project only three-quarters finished. It turned out to be a much bigger effort than he first anticipated.
Geoph completed Part One of Visions of Utopia in 2002. It offers a concise historic overview of intentional communities, and profiles seven contemporary groups. With Geoph’s blessing, FIC took responsibility for completing Part Two. Working closely with videographers Phil Schweitzer and Douglas Stevenson of Village Media, we were able to accomplish this in February 2009.
Here is what what Geoph wrote as an introduction to his magnum opus in 2006:
“Dear Friend in Community,
Over the past decade I’ve given hundreds of slide shows about intentional communities, and several years ago I completed the first half of a three-hour video documentary on the subject. That was after working for more than four years on this project (it’s grown considerably from the two-hour program originally envisioned!).
I’m happy to report that the following year the Communal Studies Association bestowed upon Part One of the video its prestigious “Outstanding Project of the Year” Award.For all the groups covered, one of the common threads is that each community was founded on a vision of how the members’ daily lives, and usually the world, can be improved.
The visions range widely from self-sufficient living on the land, to land cooperatives sharing resources and close friendships, to spiritually-based groups trying to live more closely aligned with the teachings of their faith. Not surprisingly, the way each group manifests that vision is quite different from the next. For example, I’ve visited a number of Catholic Worker houses, and though based on the same founding vision, no two are alike (and one will be featured in Part Two). The same is true for egalitarian communities, back-to-the-land communities, ecovillages, and cohousing communities–no two are identical.
My personal experience comes from having lived in communities of various kinds for nearly 34 years, and for the past 18 years I’ve been on the road doing networking among many groups. At this point I’ve visited more than 360 different residential communities, so I truly have an “insider’s perspective.”
For a sense of the experience and outlook I bring to this project, I invite you to check out some of the articles I written in recent years. “Intentional Communities: Lifestyles Based on Ideals” is featured in a previous edition of Communities Directory, and I write the “Peripatetic Communitarian” column in the quarterly Communities magazine.“