“I was looking for a place where I would have a sense of family and belonging, and where I could be more ecologically sustainable,” says Tanuki, age 34.
Becky, 23, was seeking somewhere more natural, that would allow her to live more holistically. “I wanted to live somewhere where I could get to know people as whole people, not just as my room-mate, or my co-worker,” she explains.
They’ve both chosen to make their homes in one of the six intentional communities located in Louisa County, a 45-minute drive from Charlottesville, Virginia. Born out of the counter-culture communes of the 60’s, today they are more likely to describe themselves as “eco-villages.” The approximately 150 people who live in these communities support themselves with collectively-owned businesses, such as Twin Oaks Tofu and Hammocks, and are active in organic farming/seed-saving and other progressive/radical movements. They also nurture a culture of self-reliance by focusing on mending clothes, repairing machinery, and growing their own food instead of supporting the modern trend towards disposable overly packaged goods available in the capitalist world.
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Get a Taste of Communal Living at Twin Oaks Intentional Community
Twin Oaks, the largest and oldest of these communities, welcomes approximately 75 people each year to come for the Three Week Visitor Program to experience a taste of what it’s like to live in community and also offers Saturday afternoon tours on most weekends.
The community began in 1967 and by the early 90’s Twin Oaks had helped to start Acorn Community, a smaller group nearby that runs Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, a successful organic seed business. Several smaller offshoots now exist as well and each community has a different organizational style, community focus, and membership process. While each group of people may have a different vision of what Utopia should look like, they all agree that living and working together is the first step. As Twin Oaks’ founder Kat Kinkade put it in one of her books:
“The central idea of the Community has not changed. We are still after the big dream – a better world, here and now, for as many people as we can manage to support. More, a new kind of human to live in that world: happy, productive, open-minded people who understand that in the long run, human good is a cooperative and not a competitive sort of thing.”
More from the Homestead Guru: UN Report Says Small-Scale Organic Farming Only Way To Feed The World
The benefits of cooperative living are many: owning collective houses and cars helps reduce each person’s footprint on the Earth by a huge percentage, sharing income and resources helps ensure an equitable distribution of wealth and helps to avoid the class system of those with and those without, plus it’s hard to get bored – there is always some social activity happening, such as bonfires, saunas, book clubs, musical performances, and more!
More Places to experience Communal Living:
If you’re interested in learning more, or would like to consider this lifestyle for yourself, you are invited to explore the communities below.
Twin Oaks: An income-sharing, egalitarian ecovillage of 100 people supporting themselves in 450 acres. www.twinoaks.org
Acorn: A consensus-based community sharing income generated from the sale of heirloom seeds. www.acorncommunity.org
Cambia: Focused on co-creating a culture of social sustainability and harmony that nourishes us as well as the earth. cambiacommunity.weebly.com
Mimosa: A re-forming community dedicated to healing ourselves and the planet, in a social justice context. www.thefec.org/communities/
Raven Rocks Eco-Village: A long standing community in Ohio living in partnership with the land. www.raven-rocks.org