The Growing Appeal of Intentional Community

A kitchen tool we have found that makes dealing with the glut of zucchini easier is the Julienne Peeler. It makes a huge zucchini into a wonderful angel hair like pasta alternative. Blanch the zucchini pasta in hot water for a minute or two.  Toss with olive oil and add some fresh feta, calamata olives, maybe some walnuts.  One of the best lunches one can have.  Yum!
Sorry for posting this at lunch time for you west coast folks. 

Of all the vegetables in my new garden, the squash is thriving most. We planted Waltham Butternut squash that seems to love the cool, moist marine air that comes in with the fog at night.
We have lots of nearly ripe large squashes like the one below:

My garden helper here (Charlotte) is demonstrating how extensively the squash vines have taken over much of the garden:

And showing here how parting the vines back unveils numerous squashes:


Here's one that blew my mind, zucchini pie, my entwife found it on line. You cut up zucchini and saute them in lemon juice brown sugar and a little bit of salt. Put it in pie crust and bake like a pie (you need to peel and seed the zucchini). It is supposed to taste like apple pie, well almost, but it does taste pretty darn good.


Waltham butternuts, I can second Adam's recommendation. Well, they don't only like west coast weather, they love New England's weather as well. Those things grow like weeds, they keep great. We have found that without much special attention, they keep well into early spring, and they do taste good.


We took a break this year from them this year and only put in a couple of plants. We have grown mostly acorns and delicata's this year. The delicata's don't keep as well, but they do taste great.

A new way to prepare zucchini! At my age that is something that doesn't happen often.Thanks Jason. It sounds great. We wil try it.

ferralhen, that's quite a life story!  Sounds like it'd be worth taking the time to write down what you learned from the various groups that you were involved in, and your descriptions of "what works and what doesn't".  There's quite a literature developing in this area (Diana Leafe Christian is a good example, and Hildur Jackson's "Creating Harmony"); perhaps you could contribute to it.You motorcycle gang experience reminds me of a book you might enjoy: "The Wild Within", by Paul Rezendes.

I think you just took the first step.  Take a deep breath and enjoy the journey,

I didn't mean to turn this chain into a recipe exchange but Treebeard's zucchini pie is also new to me and sounds really interesting.  I might have to put out word to our friends to send us more zucchinis.

Sharing recipes is not antithetical to discussing community. The latter is an arms length intectual discussion about the subject, the former actually being a community.  I think a healthy mix of both is a good idea.
Reminds me of a story of a bunch of elders who got together to discuss in small village the days events in China over tea. They lived through revolutions, cultural revolutions and reforms. But still they had this simple rutual.  I think it is the connection to the simple things in daily life, like ways to prepare zucchini, is a great way to stay grounded in the turbulent times.

Despite all the insanity, we will still be cooking zucchini in the summertime.

,and watching baseball when you prepare and eat over a cool glass of ice tea.


We should get at least a couple of dozen

 Thirty years ago I was searching for an alternative way to live as an isolated single mom living in suburbia, and stumbled across the co-housing and intentional community movement. Over these years of extensive research including visiting many and living in several for short and extended periods, even though I married and saw issues in these communites, I still had a dream of a richer, more connected life. 
I am convinced of several points mentioned in this article and have incorporated these tenets into our own new community forming. ( Consensus is slow, difficult and can be crippling to launching and running a community effectively…yet everyone must have a voice and believe their ideas have been heard and considered.  Good ideas however can die on delivery if the person speaking is not respected for having ‘good ideas’ or they are dismissed because a ‘leader’ harbors a grudge for the person (not for the idea) and the introverts in the group are not comfortable with confrontation or crowds.
Anonymous crowd sourcing of members however can remove politics and prejudices and allow privacy so the best ideas are voted to the top and it eliminates the need for grueling policy meetings where much animosity is born. Having a manager who is responsible for the running, caring and integration of new policies, acts as the key link to the consistent, happy community.
By establishing the vision in a concrete form and laying out the tenets allows people to self-select and jump in just as we choose our homes in any build community. People will come and go as they do in any community but if there is equal access to control and meetings are about bonding, producing and celebrating instead of knock-down-drag-out-high-drama battles, then the retention rate is solid and lifetime friendships built on mutual respect can be established.
Screening for ‘Psychopaths’ is not clean or easy but is also key…as it’s true that if serious, irrational rabble-rousers sneak in they can shatter the community. The Freemasons have a long and profitable organization and in part this might be because people must be invited and sponsored and the sponsor is careful to choose as they are ‘on the hook’ for their choice. Knowing that it is a privilege to be a member and that others would happily take your place keeps motivation of the member high.

"Given the most careful control of temperature, nutrients, and environment, the organism will do as it damn well pleases." – Murphy
I've been working on this for going on eight years, and I'm now sober and appropriately jaded, and yet still hopeful and trying.

We started out marketing to people "who were interested in intentional community." We ended up attracting lots of people who were wounded and needy, who wanted to be accepted "just as they are," without being willing to change nor to work on their own problems. Everyone who came had their own vision that they wanted to impose on the group.

One person, who had less than 0.3% equity, wanted to re-name the place after his ancestor's farm in Ireland. Another flew into a rage that lasted days when we insisted on drip-line irrigation, instead of his oscillating sprinkler, at a time when wells around here were going dry.

Another, who was here less than one weekend a month, went apoplectic when we bred two goats, and insisted on her "consent whenever any living being was brought into the EcoReality site." I wanted to personally introduce her to the billions of births, copulations, and deaths happening each hour in our compost bins. :slight_smile:

Then we switched our focus to people "who were interested in collaborative agriculture." This has had mixed results, attracting people who tend to be more down-to-earth, but also who were more flakey and less willing to commit.

Another problem we've had is with mental illness. I think when you try to do something different, you attract the fringes of society. Some of them drift in and out and are easily dealt with or dismissed, although we have had to call the police. One of them called the police on us, which caused a lot of stress, even though the charges were eventually dismissed as "without merit."

A deadly combination is mental illness and money. Money is really hard to turn down, even as the red flags are fluttering all about the person. One person was recently kicked out of the farm across the street, and waved mid-six-figures in our face. He almost bankrupted us, and we had to get our lender to threaten to foreclose in order to get this person to leave a valuable resource (house) that was not producing promised income. (He was going to fill it with Cuban workerss who would pay us $50 a night for the privilage of working in the greenhouse. Three junkets to Cuba later, still no Cubans!)

Transience is a continuing problem. We have had several hundred people through here in nearly eight years, and sometimes their influence tugs and twists on our direction and unnecessarily diverts resources into dead-end projects. You need a permanent, core group who are fairly aligned to keep from blowing around in the wind of short-timers, and new people need a "settling time" before they can be taken too seriously. "I'm willing to try that after you've been here a year!"

We are hobbled and blessed with a lack of housing. We currently have two houses, and the residents of the two would often be at odds. There's something about separate living that makes it easier to point fingers. But then we have issues with communal living, as well, but at least people see each other each day, and have ample opportunity for working out issues.

I would give up if I were not convinced that this is the most likely way to succeed in a difficult future. The problem I see is that things are not yet difficult enough for others to see that they need to "hang together, or surely hang separately," as Ben Franklin put it.

The most important thing to do is to have shared values. They need to be written down, and consulted often. I think they need to be in a progression or hierarchy, so that conflicts between values can be resolved. For example, a commitment to non-violence might trump honouring diversity, if a person argued that "diversity" meant they could bring a bunch of weapons onto the site.

if I were starting over, I think I would put more effort into joining a going concern, rather than starting a new one. On the other hand, EcoReality has survived and even progressed over nearly eight years, so if this is something interesting to you, we could use your help!

After seven years, 2012 was our first year in the black. We have some new people who are committed to the project, and things are looking more hopeful than they have in years. If you get near southwest British Columbia, please get in touch to arrange a visit!

Thanks for the well-balanced description of what has to have been a trying, and rewarding, time.  I'd say that the simple fact that you've made it through seven years, and are still going and committed, is a triumph in itself.I've been following the intentional community movement for a while, as well as exploring the nature of community (see my wiki).  Clearly, to me at least, the ability to "do community" isn't innate in everyone, especially in a society where the sense of community has been degrading for so long.  It's hardly surprising that most of those who show up for some personal reason, with personal expectations of what Ecoreality should be, will be disappointed and disappointing.
Hang in there; efforts like yours are needed!