Why Intentional Community?

Most people who want to homestead don’t gather a community together first. They look for land, get a mortgage and begin. We could do the same. So why bother bringing others along? It adds a level of complexity that has us swimming in questions of communal land ownership, shared finances and zoning codes.

But for me intentional community is essential to life, and particularly life on the land.


David and Brenna cook at St. Isidore Catholic Worker Farm

Here are some of the reasons why:

1. The Meta Reason

If you zoom out, it is possible to see intentional community as a little solution to the BIG problems of our society. It can be the antithesis of capitalism, materialism, sexism, racism and violence. When we rely more on one another, learn to share our resources, and reconcile with one another we are creating the alternative society, offering a lived antidote to the ills of our American Capitalist Empire. We are creating a space where it is easier to be good to one another and the land.

2. The Practical Reason

Farming is a lot of work. Boy howdy! It is joyful work when it is shared with others, but tedious when done alone. It is also expensive. So sharing income, tools, and vehicles will be necessary for us: we don’t want to move to the country just to spend all our time making money in the city. We want our livelihood to come from the land, thus our time must be given to the land.

Community will also facilitate our ability to host visitors, interns, volunteers and homeless guests. And likewise we will be able to give one another breaks from the farm when we need to retreat, visit family, or attend a protest.

3. The Personal Reason

Community is a place of on-going spiritual formation. In my nine years at the Bloomington Catholic Worker, I have learned what it means to forgive, to be generous, to be humble and courageous. I sing with others, I eat with others, I pray with others. My children have playmates and they too are nourished by an alternative culture that emphasizes generosity, sharing, care for the poor, and conflict resolution. Intentional community helps me and my children be healthy and whole.


Lunch is ready at the Ohio River Valley gathering

Lunch is served at the Ohio River Valley Intentional Communities Gathering.



The Way In to Change

The Way In

Sometimes the way to milk and honey is through the body.
Sometimes the way in is a song.
But there are three ways in the world: dangerous, wounding,
and beauty.
To enter stone, be water.
To rise through hard earth, be plant
desiring sunlight, believing in water.
To enter fire, be dry.
To enter life, be food.

Linda Hogan

A year ago, standing in this yellow kitchen, leaning on the sink to wash dishes, I thought of childbirth. “We need to be born,” I said to David. “But how the hell is that going to happen?” We had a vision but couldn’t understand how to IMG_9531begin, which is to say, how to leave.

How do you choose childbirth – with the pounding back labor, the vomit-inducing contractions, and the fire-searing pain of the crowning? With the first child, you are gifted ignorance to endure the pain. And with the second, though you know exactly how much to dread the pain, you can also see clearly to the joy.

I am not ignorant to the pain of this change. Unlike childbirth, it afflicts me like a chronic condition. And I can’t see clearly to the joy because there so many questions: Who will join our community? How will we raise enough money? What land will be buy? Will we have to build a house? It is better when these questions wait patiently so that I can deal with what is at hand: Do we have enough boxes for our stuff? Will our children miss the community as much as I will? beautiful-blooming-bright-1165039

I am looking for the way in to change. I am finding it in poetry and in song. I am finding it in silent prayer, in the Psalms, in giant sunflowers. “To rise through hard earth, be plant / desiring sunlight / believing in water.”