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.
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.