Oakland Morehouse

Oakland, California, United States

  • Last updated: February 15, 2016 (1 year ago)
  • Listing created on: March 27, 2009

Mission Statement

conscious pleasurable living

Community Description

The Oakland Morehouse, aka the Institute of Human Abilities, is the first Morehouse. Our doors have been open as an intentional community since the winter of 1969.

We are a mix of people with differing ages, races and socio/economic backgrounds living in a 100+ year-old purple Victorian in the Lake Merritt area of Oakland. Sometimes we eat together, sometimes we work together on the house, and we generally take care of each other and have fun. We are dedicated to a lifestyle of doing only what we want to do, while being mindful of our responsibilities and our impact on others. We call this “responsible hedonism”.

“Our philosophy is based on the belief that you are perfect, that the world is perfect, and that you are totally responsible for your life. We believe that perfection includes the potential for change.” By permission from the Lafayette Morehouse website

Our egalitarian social system is based the concept of “one no-vote”. In this system every individual has the right to cast an irrevocable no-vote, which permanently vetoes any proposed action. The effect of any disgruntled person having the ability to permanently stop forward motion on a particular course of action has resulted in a great deal of communication and very few no-votes cast. This system of decision-making fosters a level of consideration for the concerns of others and achieving high levels of agreement, which has allowed our group to stay together for many decades – much longer than the average “commune.”

We have weekly house meetings that average about an hour in length. While we don’t have regularly shared meals, there is a dinner available most nights. Each house member also has six hours of shifts a week, during which they can have their attention on the well–being of the physical house and the people in it.

If you want to know more about our unique style of communal living, you are welcome to attend one of our parties or a group. We also contract from Lafayette Morehouse courses in which our philosophy and lifestyle are described in more depth. These courses address group living and critical aspects of human interaction, including, sensuality, communication and man/woman relationships.

There is usually space in our house for enthusiastic participants who want to have more pleasure and consciousness in their lives and who are interested in exploring the More philosophy. For more information on Morehouse go to www.lafayettemorehouse.com.


  • Type(s): Shared Housing, Cohouseholding, or Coliving (multiple individuals sharing a dwelling)
  • Programs & Activities: School, Educational Institute or Experience
  • Location: Urban


  • Status: We do not have land
  • Current Residence Types: Room(s) in a house or building
  • Current Number of Residences: 1
  • Land owned by: The Community


  • Adult Members: 15
  • Percent Women: 51-60%
  • Percent Men: 31-40%
  • Percent Transgender: 0%
  • Visitors accepted: Yes
  • Visitor Process:

    Please call or email to arrange a visit. You can also check our website for courses, parties or groups. This is the best way to make an initial contact with us.

  • Open to new Members: Yes


  • Decision Making: One No-Vote
  • Identified Leader: Yes
  • Leadership Core Group: No
  • Additional Comments:

    our house has a Housemother

    One no-vote by any community member stops any proposed new action from taking place. Communication is key.


  • Dues, Fees, or Shared Expenses: Yes
  • Shared Income: Partial share of income
  • Required Labor Contribution per Week: 11
  • Open to members with existing debt: Yes (some debt)
  • Additional Comments:

    11 hours per week

    must take the Evaluacy course

    monthly MSD course fee and a small contribution to household items

Sustainability Practices

  • Energy Infrastructure: We are connected to the grid.
  • Current renewable energy generation: 0%, or close to 0%
  • Planned renewable energy generation: 0%, or close to 0%
  • Current food produced: 0%, or close to 0%
  • Planned food produced: 0%, or close to 0%
  • Food produced locally: Almost All, around 90%


  • Internet Available: Yes, community provides it
  • Internet Fast?: Yes, it’s fine.
  • Cell Phone Service: Good for most people.
  • Shared meals: About once a week
  • Dietary Practice: Omnivorous (plants and animals)
  • Dietary Choice or Restrictions: No – people may eat however they wish.
  • Special Diets OK: Yes
  • Alcohol Use: Yes, used occasionally.
  • Tobacco Use: Yes, used seldomly, or ceremoniously.
  • Additional Diet Comments:

    • Alcohol Use: Up to the individual
    • Tobacco Use: not allowed in the house.

  • Common Spiritual Practice(s): Ecumenical (accepts all religions or spiritual practices)
  • Education Style(s): Up to each family or individual
  • Healthcare Options: Up to each family or individual


Morehouse, Oakland, egalitarian, responsible hedonism, communication, sensuality, group living