an intentional community close to home

I was out with a friend last night, talking about Jonestown and the long-term feasibility of intentional communities. (This friend and I both have dreams of moving off-grid.) So, here it is 24 hours later, and I’m searching the net, looking for information on projects currently underway in Michigan… Well, as coincidence has would have it, we aren’t the only ones in Ypsi musing about such things. I found the following listing on a site for people interested in intentional communities.

2 houses, one small, cozy 2 unit, near food co-op, organic garden in yard 20 yrs, 1.5 blocks from food co-op, another larger 1860 house suitable for “common” area, group dinners; library workshop; 4 bdrms and one office space/BR. House fully furnished, kitchen fully furnished w appliances etc. Wanted – folks interested in house sharing/community building – retrofitting houses gradually toward sustainability/maintaining gardens. initial openings in larger house – cost @ 500/mo (doesn’t include meals in cost)

If I come up with some free time, I plan on contacting the person who made the post to find out more. Hopefully, I’ll have details here later.

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  1. egpenet
    Posted April 11, 2007 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    There is co-housing in Ann Arbor, also. Plenty of published material on the pluses and minuses. It is not easy. Even monks and nuns can testify to that. Add marriages and children to the mix … which I did for a while as a single parent with two in grade school, and … well … it’s not easy. Great experience. It’s worth a go.

    Boundaries and personal space are “musts,” and with kids, parents must remain the “deciders.” Lots of other issues to contend with, besides the garden weeds and who left the water boiling on the stove for the tea.

    Several Ann Arbor landlords have set up student apartments like cohabitation spaces with plenty of private space, common areas and luxury ammenities. It’s fun to see the limos arrive and drop off the students … and then later begin to pick through the piles of top-of-the-line furnishings, appliances and electonics left on the curb in the dust as the limos pull away at the end of the term.

  2. muppster
    Posted April 12, 2007 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    the guy who did that post seems really nice. he’s been trying to get in touch with us, though we haven’t made the connection live yet…

  3. ol' e cross
    Posted April 12, 2007 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Maybe we could Tom Monaghan, Iggy Pop and Kami Andrews to join the house and launch Surreal World Ypsi.

  4. egpenet
    Posted April 12, 2007 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    After having gerbils for many years, seems that if your plan includes colorful translucent tunnels, wheels that spin around and lots and lots of wood shavings throughout the house … it should work. Oh yah, losts of water bottles and crunchy things to eat.

  5. mark
    Posted April 12, 2007 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    From what I hear, Kami Andrews (the fourth Andrews sister) has retired from show business. I do like the idea of Iggy Pop and Tom Monaghan living togehter, though. Maybe we could start an online petition drive. If we limited it to a week and gave all the proceeds to charity, they might be persuaded.

  6. ypsi oneworlder
    Posted April 13, 2007 at 1:12 am | Permalink

    okay, so if you’re all going to make fun of me, maybe I’ll just sell the houses and toddle on over instead to Tennessee and ‘the Farm’, or Dancing Rabbit eco-village where its already all in place and forget about the Ypsi misadventure!

    Broad survey of monks and nuns eh egpenet?? You’re right, I imagine its no place for the feint of heart.

    So how many folks have off grid fantasies? Let’s hear from everyone who has rainbarrels watering their gardens…

  7. UBU
    Posted April 13, 2007 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    Mark, I will be glad to start a fund to send you to a deserted tropical island…

  8. cleo love-paste
    Posted April 13, 2007 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    My rainbarrels are for breeding mosquitos, and, for what it’s worth, I don’t think that anyone was making fun. Your project sounds very interesting.

  9. egpenet
    Posted April 13, 2007 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    Loads of monks and nuns in one of my past lives. As the twist goes … “Been there. Done.”

    And if Mark wants to buy an island … the City needs the money, make an offer on Frog Island. And there’s a financial need in Detroit … send an offer to Kwamie for Belle Isle.

  10. ol' e cross
    Posted April 13, 2007 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

    Ypsi1. Ten or so years ago my wife and I were touring abandoned mansions in Detroit with friends looking to do what you’re looking to do. (Some of us lacked financing, others nerve, it didn’t work out.)

    I wasn’t meaning to poke fun, the post just got me thinking about what Ypsilantians it’d be amusing to see share a home.

    I think Ypsi is the perfect place to attempt something intentional, but I’ll suggest the accidents of Ypsi can be just as satisfying. After our failed attempts at intention, we gave up on planned community. I cried over it. But, there’s a happy ending.

    We now know, (considering our limited time in this locale) an amazing number of folks. Folks who share lawnmowers, compost, beer, bands and children with each other. Folks who like, if not love, each other.

    The beautiful thing is they range from God-fearing Michigan Militia members to athiests to pacifists. They just know how to be a kind and good neighbor and genuinely enjoy the humanity beneath the idealogy.

    This a personal judgement, but I’m suspect of folks who want to save the world by running from it. Folks who self-righteously act as though they are immune from the sickness of humanity as if they can just put enough distance between themselves and rest of us, they’ll be good and well (whether they’re singing ave maria or dancing with rabbits).

    For god’s sake and ours, stay in Ypsi. I’m not suggesting you wouldn’t, but just try to make sure the wacko three doors down is, to some degree, as much a part of what you consider your community as the person who forgot to buy more toilet paper for the umpteenth time.

  11. egpenet
    Posted April 14, 2007 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    OEC … those are all of the dozens and more reasons I live here … the best of all of the places I’ve lived all over this country, where a neighborhood can still mean something … and with great diversity of ideologies, tastes, and everything else.

  12. ypsi oneworlder
    Posted April 14, 2007 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Thanks Cleo for being concerned about my feelings… i was just joking back.

    Ah yes, egp, it seems like, in one of my past lives… all of my favorite nuns and priests were always becoming “ex” so i wasn’t um, challenging your wisdom on this…i have 3 married ex-1’s as coworkers at the moment, so yah, more evidence. BTW – is that dog of yours an ex-monk in disguise? Quite a robe.

    About the rainbarrels, I ‘hear’ that if you put a styrofoam floaty/cover on, this will take care of that… the mosquitos, that is. and then, you can just cover/contain them entirely. We’ll see!

    If Mark goes to that island… i hope he has internet ; )

    Shucks, y’all sound like an Ypsi brochure! kind of makes me want to stop working so much like a little mole and live here more!

  13. murph
    Posted April 14, 2007 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    I’ll suggest the accidents of Ypsi can be just as satisfying

    OEC, I’m personally a devoted intentional communiteer, and also very much against running from it. I’ve discussed this briefly with Mark in the context mentioned above – I don’t think one has to move out to a little farm in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by the hand-picked few to have an “intentional community”. That’s not a community – it’s a compound.

    Rather, I’m interested in intentionally building community where I am with the people who are around me. Sure, to some degree it will just /happen/, as long as you let it, but all the better to seek it out and nurture it with the explicit recognition and expectation of it.

    Limiting the idea of “intentional community” to a bunch of ideologically cloned hippies (or monks) living in a big crazy house together seems like a waste of a label for a lot of good things.

  14. mark
    Posted April 14, 2007 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    I still like the idea of living on a rural farm, stockpiling weapons, and all the rest of it, but you make good points.

  15. egpenet
    Posted April 14, 2007 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Some of the very best things to come out of the eons of communal living groups, intentional or not, are: aged brandy, chartreuse liquor, black bread, a few belgian beer recipes (non-fruit), and a million-and-one ways to prepare fish and eggs (for all of the many days of fasting from meats).

    The nasty things that have resulted produces a much longer list.

  16. oliva
    Posted April 14, 2007 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    I always thought the monks of New Skete had it so good spending all their time with those beautiful (and divinely well-mannered) German shepherds . . . atop the grassy hillsides. Oh, and writing books otherwise. Eating what, though? Drinking what?

  17. egpenet
    Posted April 15, 2007 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    The monasteries often do better than the cloistered convents. Many monasteries are in the country and have land and have developed crops, products, herds of tasty beasties, etc.

    Most convents are in cities and most, like the Camelites in Detroit or Washington, D.C. depend on charity for their food and finances. I have enjoyed very simple but nutritious food at monasteries. And I have had three courses of donated layer cakes, brownies, ice cream and cookies at a main meal at a Carmelite convent. “We are grateful for what is given to us,” they say.

    The D.C. convent works on the streets of D.C. with the poor. But their nutrition is far worse than any street kid in D.C.

    Why the Bishops treat their nuns differently than their monks is another thread.

    Then, there is a colletion of monastic communities in Colorado, near Alamosa … men and women together … one is Catholic-based, also Carmelite, and another is Tibetan, also mixed (men and women monks) plus families who herd sheep … given asylum from the commies.

    A spiritual thread and a strict “rule” that guides the running of the place helps keep these two communities going smoothly, given the daily slings and arrows of life.

    I once visited (drove around) Merton’s monastery in Kentucky.

    The Zen monastery on Packard in Ann Arbor is quite peaceful and yet very active in the community, and open to serious inquiries.

    I view Ypsilanti as a semi-intentional community … in the sense that a lot of folks who are here would rather not be here, but are stuck here.

    To my snide way of thinking, I wish they’d find a way to get out, and join those oldtimers who abandoned the city in the last twenty years … and just leave us to get ourselves back on our feet. There’s a lot of resistance to change around here and just not enough creative thinking.

    Just go.

    For one view of what’s possible … check out the reconstruction and renovation taking place at 402 S. Huron. (I think that’s the address) Check out the new businesses downtown. Get involved.

    Or … leave.

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