Background

First, a Little History

Hello. My name is Christian Eric Stalberg. My interest in intentional communities began in the 1970s when living off the grid in communities magazinethe Santa Cruz mountains of California. In those days I was an avid reader of Mother Earth News, Communities, In Context, Organic Gardening and organic gardening magazineFarming, and Prevention magazines. The Whole Earth Catalog was my dream book, supplemented by the Whole Earth Quarterly. I was an early member of the newly formed California Certified Organic Farmers association and REI co-op.

After years of dreaming about intentional community, in 2008 while living in North Carolina I decided to get serious about forming one so I started the Triangle Intentional Communities Meetup Group on meetup.com. I then threw myself into deeply studying the subject including attending conferences in order to learn all I could from those who had gone before me (which in this country goes all the way back to the mid-19th century). Within a year or so, several of us who were seriously committed formed what we called the “founders group” and began planning in earnest to found an ecovillage somewhere in the North Carolina Piedmont. Today this ecovillage, called Hart’s Mill Ecovillage & Farm, is currently underway and is pointed to by many as exemplary of having adopted best practices in its formation, governance and overall pragmatism. You can learn about the basics of how we brought Hart’s Mill Ecovillage & Farm into being.

Today

Most people agree today that so-called ‘modern civilization’ is a mess. I share the view, articulated by an increasing number of thought leaders, that industrial growth civilization is largely to blame, having separated us from nature and from one another. In spite of having access to virtually unlimited information and each other via computers and smartphones, we are more lonely and lost than ever before. What is missing from our lives are relationships of depth, free from fear, distrust, competition and notions of scarcity.  More than this however, we have lost our ubuntu, which is a term from the Nguni people of Africa which loosely translated means “behaving well towards others or acting in ways that benefit the community”. For some, Ubuntu is something akin to a soul force – an actual metaphysical connection shared between people and which helps us connect to each other. Ubuntu will push one toward selfless acts. This is similar to the Buddha’s teachings on bodhicitta which tells us that real happiness and joy is gained via selfless service. The English language does not have comparable words, which should should tell you something. Essentially our culture has been poisoned.

So then what is the antidote? An intentional community based upon shared values! Homo sapiens lived in small groups first as nomadic groups and later in villages for thousands of years (see Dunbar’s number). This has shaped us epigenetically. Large populations in cities are designed according to industrial efficiency in mind. This is most unnatural and contributes to the general malaise we find in ‘modern’ civilization.

References:

Sherry Turkle

Get the Definition of Ubuntu, a Nguni Word with Several Meanings

Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health