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Are Communes Making a Comeback?

Are Communes Making a Comeback?

Like many icons of the 1960s, 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.

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Ronnie Citron-Fink

Ronnie Citron-Fink is a writer, editor and educator. She has written hundreds of articles about sustainable living, the environment, design, and family life for websites, books and magazines. Ronnie is the creator of Econesting, and the managing editor of Moms Clean Air Force. Ronnie was named one of the Top Ten Living Green Experts by Yahoo. Ronnie lives in New York with her family.

7 comments

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5:31PM PDT on Apr 20, 2009

Have you heard of co housing? It's becoming popular all over the States. There are now 72 cohousing communities in this country.
Cohousing is a combination of a private home or condo and common rooms , like a kitchen and dining room for common meals , a large living room to socialize or conduct any classes you can think of. There are common and private gardening spaces. the neighbors help the architect to design just the right to s community that the like. Many websites for co housing. Ours will be for active adults who have raised their families and want to be free to live an active life without a big house to take care of . It will be built soon in Grass Valley, CA, a lively small town with plenty of outdoor recreation plus many cultural activities. The building is totally green and environment friendly. Check out our website: www.Wolfcreeklodge.org

9:00AM PDT on Apr 6, 2009

I am very interested in sustainable living. My husband and I are moving from the SF Bay Area up to Oregon in a few months to get away from all of the concrete and people! I actually looked for communes to join. My husband is not so into the shared living spaces, but we both want to make the world a little better instead of a little worse. Maybe all we need to do is join an intentional community. I think it sounds like a very good idea.

6:07AM PDT on Apr 6, 2009

I live near The Farm in Summertown, Tennessee and they have thrived throughout the years with fantastic solar power, publishing educational books and eco friendly. I admire and commend all the folks that hung in there and made it all real.

3:10AM PDT on Apr 6, 2009

It would be interesting to know if that's actually possible. I'd say there would be a lot of diversity intermingled and although it might work for some, not for others. Some personalities would be more suited to that kind of a lifestyle than others.

I guess, the more people in any kind of a community, the more difficulties as far as mutual agreements go. And mutual agreements (or some kind of rules) would have to be a must.

It kind of reminds me of a movie i once watched, i think it's called "4400".

Not everyone's ideal.

10:05PM PDT on Apr 5, 2009

(The photo shows a commune of models, apparently :P )

1:47PM PDT on Apr 5, 2009

sure why not? I guess seeing how I am part of the generation born in the 60's but also have a grown daughter and her hubby to be living with me because they have little resources to live on there own. So why not, many grown young people have little financial strength plus they will have emotional support as they raise their children, kinda like a sister/brother to help with the everyday stuff.

1:45PM PDT on Apr 5, 2009

This is really wonderful! Its actually been a recent dream of my husband and myself to start up or join an environmentally friendly little community out in the wilderness. Its inspiring to see that many other people are taking a similar interest.

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