Someone posted a comment on my last post that deserves an answer in full form, not just a response in comment-land.

The question is: “what is a commune exactly? how many people live in a commune? i’m curious…”

so many different ways to answer that question…

Well, there’s “communes” and then there’s “intentional communities”. An intentional community can be any group of people who are sharing their lives based on some set of common values. It’s wider than the basic construct of family, but it could include monestaries, sororities, the military, an urban co-op, a bunch of hippies living off the land, and more. There’s a great website done by the Fellowship for Intentional Community at www.ic.org that has lots of information on communities in the U.S. and globally.

I guess my definition of a commune is one extreme version of intentional community, where people live toghether and share responsibility for their lives on a deep level.

At Twin Oaks www.twinoaks.org we do this on a fairly large scale, creating our own culture that’s distinctly different from the mainstream. We are 90 adults and 15 children living on 450 acres of land. We grow much of our own food, we run our own businesses, we share all of the money we make, we build our own buildings, and we share 17 vehicles (no one person owns their own car).

Each member has their own reasons for living this way. For me, and many other people here, it’s rooted in not being satisfied with mainstream culture. I don’t want to live in a world that perpetuates sexism, classism, and rasicm (and heterosexism, and capitalism, and…). I believe that it’s possible to live differently than that, and so I decided to dramatically change my life to move away from those oppressive basics of Western culture. It’s not ignoring that those things exist — it’s working to build an alternative.

There’s so much more to this place… and every community is different. There are over 700 intentional communities in the United States, and many more throughout the world.

But that’s all I’ll write for now. Much more about Twin Oaks and communes and community later. Now, I’m going off to weave hammocks. We’ve got a big order to ship out on Dec 15, so we’ve got a lot of work to do in the next week and a half.

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