Content below was originally published by Peace News and author Lauren Kelley. Search for communities in our directory.
This is not in any way intended to be a definitive statement – more a pointer to some of the more significant developments in the theory and practice of community.
Intentional Communities Timeline
6th Century BCE through the 1900s
6th Century BCE: Pythagoras founds Homakoeion, a vegetarian commune based on intellectualism, mysticism and equality of the sexes. Also, followers of Buddha in India join together in ashrams to live in a productive, spiritual manner.
2nd Century CE: Essenes communes, based on the morality of the Hebrew Bible, flourish in the area of the Dead Sea.
4th Century CE: The first Christian monasterial communities are established.
12th Century CE: The heretical Waldense sect founds many communes in France.
Middle Ages: The Brethren of the Free Spirit and others attempt to create secular communes in various parts of Europe.
1527: The foundation of the Hutterian Brethren by the Anabaptist movement leads to the establish-ment of numerous spiritual communes, from which the modern-day Hutterites and Bruderhof communes are derived.
1530s: The entire German city of Munster becomes an Anabaptist commune, sharing wealth, housing and even spouses.
1540s: The Mennonites, a radical Anabaptist sect, begin living in communities based solely on the Bible.
1649: The Diggers rebel against the aristocracy and live communally on crown land.
1698: The Amish create communities based on a strict interpretation of Mennonite principles.
1727: Herrnhut, a Moravian-Pietist commune is established in Saxony. (Australia’s first successful commune, also called Herrnhut, was founded by a German Moravian-Pietist in 1852.)
1774: The Shakers found communal groups, pursuing spirituality, dancing and singing, inventions, handicrafts and celibacy.
1794: The Shaker commune Sabbathday Lake, the oldest communal group still in existence, is founded.
1825: New Harmony is established in the US by Robert Owen to show that modern technology can support humane social life through non-religious communal living.
1841: Brook Farm is started in Massachusetts as “an experiment in humane living to be achieved through education and discussion”.
1848: Oneida is founded by J H Noyes in New York as a commune based on the practice of “complex marriage”.
1855: Amana Colonies are established in Iowa by German Protestants seeking Christian community.
1874: Bon Homme, the Hutterite commune that remains in existence to this day, is founded.
1889: Hull House is established in Chicago by Jane Addams as a “human community offering protection against the anonymous city”.
1910: Deganya, the first kibbutz, is founded near the Sea of Galilee. It is still going strong today.
1913: Gould Farm is established as a “community environment” for the treatment and rehabilitation of emotionally disturbed people.
1920: The first Bruderhof community, Darvell, is founded. Darvell is based on a life of Christian brotherhood and is still in existence.
1920s: Following the Communist Revolution in Russia, thousands of communes spring up, only to be suppressed later by Stalin.
1937: The first co-op house is started in Michigan. The co-op was a fore-runner of the Inter-Cooperative Council, which is a network of student housing co-ops.
1940: The Camphill Movement of therapeutic communities is founded.
1948: The Fellowship for Intentional Community, originally named the Fellowship of Intentional Communities, is founded.
1950s: More than twenty thousand communes are set up by the Communist Party of China, none of which are still in existence.
1958: Yamagishism Life, a movement of some thirty agricultural communes mainly located in Japan, is founded.
1960s: Hippies found several thousand communes, mostly short-lived.
1964: The first L’Arche community for the developmentally disabled is founded.
1968: The Catholic commune movement Integrierte Gemeinde is founded in Germany.
1972: Co-housing, a new form of urban community living, is conceived in Denmark.
1992: The first eco-villages are founded in the US and Russia.
Based on the timeline “Milestones in the History of Communal Living” from http://www.communa.org.il/ milestones.htm, the timeline “Intentional Communities Through the Ages” by Geoph Kozeny in Communities Directory 2000, and lectures by Dr Bill Metcalf and Professor Yaakov Oved of the International Communal Studies Association.
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