Like many icons of the 1960’s, communes have faded away like tie-dyed shirts. Single-family dwellings in neighborhood communities have thrived in the years since. Yet, recent USA Today article states,”Forty years after the peak of that era, thousands of communes still flourish and inspire more experiments in communal living. Environmentally conscious living for people of all ages is the new ethos. Even the label ‘communes’ has fallen from favor. Call them ‘intentional communities.’”
I spotted an article over at Springwise, an Amsterdam-based independent innovation firm, that scans the globe for the most promising new business ideas, about how in today’s ailing economy, some neighbors are revisiting the concept of communal living.
A new website, Wanna Start a Commune? aims to provide members with the tools they need to share resources of many kinds, whether or not they actually live together. Commune-related events are in the works. Meanwhile, interested consumers can follow the organization’s three pilot projects currently underway in the Los Angeles area at CuldesacCommune.org. In one pilot in Topanga, for instance, members are taking a communal approach to planting wildflowers, rodent control and building a new well, as well as carpooling and installing a communal pizza oven. The other two–one in Hollywood and one in Rustic Canyon–are teaming up to barter services, install a shared solar array, create a disaster preparedness plan and offer salsa dancing lessons. The group invites consumers interested in starting pilot projects of their own to contact the site.
Communes and Intentional Communities include various living arrangements:
• Communes, where incomes and property are often shared.
• Religious groups. Historically, three-fourths of communes are in this category.
• Housing cooperatives, where people share housing and make decisions collectively.
• Ecovillages, which are dedicated to environmental sustainability.
• Cohousing, the latest trend. About 90 exist across the nation and dozens more are planned. Residents, often senior citizens, own their homes, share ownership of land or community centers and are expected to socialize together like an extended family.
Collaborating with neighbors for shared composting, potluck dinners, recycling programs, barter services and shared childcare shines a new light on an old idea. This comes about at a time when American citizens are collectively feeling the economic crunch. Wanna Start a Commune is addressing these issues as neighbors are forging new connections online, and shoppers have begun teaming up to wield their shared power to obtain discounts and other benefits.
The communes of the ’60s may be a thing of the past, but who is to say a modern approach won’t bring them back to life? Intentional communes. Good idea? Bad idea?
Ronnie Citron-Fink lives in New York with her husband, two children (when they come home to the nest), two dogs and a cat. Ronnie is a teacher and a writer. She has been a contributing writer for Family Fun magazine. She currently writes articles about education and home design. Her writings are in four books including Family Fun Home and Some Delights of the Hudson Valley.