The question I’ve heard pretty often since moving into an intentional community is “how can you live that way?”1 This is said in all sincerity—often in not so many words—as though I’d moved to another planet or joined one of those isolated tribes you see on National Geographic.
At this point I usually make a simple observation: it’s the “normal” way that we live in North America that’s truly weird. The dominance of the single-detached family home is an historical abnormality. Most people in most places at most times in history (including most people today) have lived communally in one form or another. We are the first people in history with no practical need for our neighbours.
Not only this, but what’s driving people like me back to community is the sneaking suspicion that this individualistic experiment has been a huge mistake; that it’s unsustainable economically, environmentally, politically, spiritually, and likely a whole lot of other -lys. We need to get over the fantasy of individualism and learn what it means that we’re in this together.
- To clarify what community means for us: we have very small personal spaces, favouring larger shared spaces. We all pay room & board, meaning our food is likewise shared. ↩