Step One

August 6, 2007


This is the post I’ve been meaning to write ever since I started the blog. The first thing anyone should do if they mean to start any kind of community is get this book; Creating a Life Together by Diana Leafe Christian. That includes for people wanting to start Ecovillages, co-housing communities or even Palaeolithic tribes (are you listening Tribe of Anthropik?). 

Diana Leafe Christian is the editor of Communities Magazine and has visited many, many intentional communities. She asserts at the start that 90% of intentional communities fail and then goes about explaining what it is that the 10% do differently. 

In short the answer is mostly to do with the vision the community has and making sure that all community members are in agreement about it at the earliest possible stage. Her recommended way of creating a vision is for only 2 or 3 couples/individuals to form a core group and to work out a vision for the community they wish to start. Once the vision is set in stone only then does she suggest you go out and seek other members for the community. 

With a clear vision document it should be clear to potential members what they are getting into and only people who are in agreement with that vision should come on board. Once a larger group has formed their job is to work out the details of the vision, learn consensus decisions making and to form themselves into a community. 

Only at this point does she recommend that the community starts looking for land. Usually this is the very first thing that people do so there is a whole chapter devoted to why the purchase of land should be delayed. 

Essentially Creating a Life Together is a bible for people looking to start a community and we certainly won’t be leaving home without it. Not only does it outline the steps but offers much more; from how to get to know people properly to processes that will help you unearth what your key values are so that they can come to the surface during the visioning process rather than years later when it’s too late. 

It’s a very comprehensive book that takes a while to get through but it is pretty essential, I can’t think of any other way an individual could come by the crucial information it contains about setting up communities except by reading it. I’d like to think that every member of a community I go into would not just have read it but actually own a copy of Creating a Life Together. 

I’m intending for my next posting to be a rough form of vision document that we’ve worked up.


One comment

  1. Definitely, it’s a great book, one that has turned out to be a resource for the cohousing movement.

    May I also recommend Diana’s latest (June, 2007): Finding Community (I’m reviewing it for Cohousing magazine right now). This is one that all prospective members should read, to understand more of what community can and can’t offer and what they need to learn about themselves in the process. They can learn the hard way or the easy way, and the hard way, by not thinking about this stuff, can cause lots of delays and departures and wasted effort.

    Raines Cohen, Cohousing Coach
    Planning for Sustainable Communities

    Posted by: Raines Cohen | 08/07/2007

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