Foundation for Intentional Community (2018)
Planet Community is a series of five ten-minute documentaries about creating “intentional communities” – situations where people choose to live cooperatively with non-relatives. Many sustainability activists (myself included) believe rebuilding our communities will be fundamental to the transition to a lower tech, non-fossil fuel economy. Pooling resources makes it much easier for people to lower their carbon footprint. Even more important, living in intentional community can go a long way towards alleviating the loneliness and social isolation that plagues modern society.
Part 1 looks at life in the Dancing Rabbit eco-village in northeastern Missouri. This episode explains the the concepts of Outer Sustainability (which includes developing a local microgrid to provide electricity, local food production and distribution networks, eco-housing and recycling and reclaiming resources); Interpersonal Sustainability (relearning skills people need to live cooperatively – such as communication, conflict resolution, and embracing diversity); and Inner Sustainability (confronting unearned privilege and social oppression).
Part 2 explores a number of student housing cooperatives for University of Michigan students in Ann Arbor. The coops were created by the Inter-Cooperative Council (ICC) for students unable to afford dorms or rental housing. The student cooperative houses, which are self-governing. The ICC, which owns the houses, also offers residents training in trauma survivor support, personal stress reduction, and coop management (eg how to pass a kitchen inspections.
Part 3 is about the Enright Ridge Ecovillage, established in 2009 around a Cincinnati forest reserve. At Enright Ridge, each family owns their own home and participates in a governing body that runs various community projects, including a pub, a low income housing project and a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture schemes connect food producers and consumers more closely by allowing consumers to “subscribe” to the harvest of a particular farm or group of farms).
Part 4 visits a cluster of three co-housing schemes involving 300-400 residents in Ann Arbor Michigan. Each scheme is run as a “condominium association” to satisfy Michigan state law. Residents, who make governance decisions via consensus, work cooperatively to share meals, organize community events, compost, recycle, and operate a “common house.”
Part 5 concerns the Black Oaks Center for Sustainable renewable Living. The latter is a non-profit organization in Kankakee Illinois started by an African American woman and her son to teach permaculture principles to local residents to help them become more resilient. Their program offers training in sustainable agriculture and lifestyle choices, as running markets in food insecure city neighborhoods.