The Alternative Community
In different parts of the world, people are getting together in intentional communities to try to find answers to the many of the economic, socio-cultural and ecological issues we’re facing today. These alternative communities can appear in diverse forms and are commonly referred to as political/left/egalitarian communes and eco-communities/ecovillages. They carry the ambition of ushering in a new society and a new way of thinking and relating to life. They are mostly egalitarian, use consensus-based decision-making, oftentimes implement income-sharing or a similar type of solidarity economy, practice communal ownership of the land or other resources and try to live in harmony with nature. They are practical examples of ‘practicing what you preach’, experimenting with and implementing ideas rather than just talking.
In the following activity, we will get acquaintanted with the concept of ecovillages and political communes. And why not, perhaps you might also have the chance of a real-life experience in the intriguing world of alternative communities!
Individual / Experiential
To familiarise oneself with the concept of intentional communities
To get introduced to alternative communities and communes
Enter GEN-Europe’s webpage www.gen-europe.org. Under “members” find the Europe/world map. Check if there are any ecovillages near where you live or just look around and see if you find one that you find interesting. Remember that they are all different and have different things to offer.
Check if the ecovillage has a web page by searching for it with a search engine. If not, look for another ecovillage.
Explore the ecovillage webpage and see what it has to offer. Do you find anything interesting?
If you have the chance, visit the eco-community! Most of them are open for a visit, just make sure to contact them beforehand and agree on your visit. Sometimes you can exchange your work and support for food and lodging, sometimes you might have to pay for your visit. Also check out for interesting events or courses, they might cost money but can offer a great introduction to what the ecovillage movement is all about.
Access the website of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, Longo Maï network, Kommuja network, Radical Routes network of radical co-ops, Las Indias etc. You will be able to find a list of the communities that are members of these networks, such as on the Kommuja website, but normally not a map.
Please note that contrary to the European ecovillage network which gathers many eco-communities, the political communes’ networks comprises much less communes, that is, many of them are not members of a given network but it is possible to explore them separately. It is therefore worthwhile checking out separate left communities such as La Comune di Bagnaia, Urupia commune, Utopiaggia, Riverside community or the Austrian informal network of land communes which does not have an official website but comprises left communes as Hofkollektiv Zwetschke or Hofkollektiv Wieserhoisl.
Despite the fact that many do not have their websites translated into English, you will easily find their contact details listed on the website and if contacted, they certainly do speak English! Perhaps you could offer your language skills and help them translate some of their content in English, as well!
Feel free to read the political, social and ecological agenda of the given commune, there are many inspiring things that can be learnt, from communal ownership to egalitarian decision-making structures! If the things you read upon pique your interest, why not even opt for visiting a left commune and immersing yourself in it? Most are open to visitors, but it is advisable to contact them in advance to schedule the visit! Perhaps they also need volunteers and volunteering is always a great way to familiarise yourself better with the left values that political communes are living in practice!
Write a reflective piece on one community of your choice. If you got the chance to visit it, share your experience with pictures and text. Please feel free to add anything else you want to share about your experience!
Instructions for Submission
Upload the reflective piece you wrote on the given community. Instructions on how to upload photos and how to submit things in Moodle can be found here: Instructions on Submission&Uploading
Instructions for Assessment
Provide feedback to at least one participant that has done this activity. Instructions on providing feedback can be found here: Instructions on Feedback
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