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How do you get a commune together?

Dear Old Hippy,
I was just wondering how would you get a commune together? And where would
you make it? What would you need and what really is it all about? Thanx!!
Peace, love and light,
BUTTERFLY…


A commune is a commitment to a specific way of life and a commitment to other people. It’s sorta like a marriage, but with lots of other people involved. It’s an extended family. Within a commune you get to set the goals and rules for a whole community. It’s needed by people who feel society’s goals and rules don’t fit their own. Rather than compromise one’s life for the sake of a lifestyle you can’t abide, you get to try your own ideas in a private utopia.

Starting a commune is no small task. You can’t just say I’m going to start a commune and viola! you have instant commune. The first hurdle is finding like-minded people to join you. You would have to have some friends or people you’ve already spent some time with and shared ideas. You would all have to agree on which principles your commune would be started. Right there you might run into trouble, but that is part of the process. The entire commune experience is an ongoing process. You would all have to commit to the process. The process is usually a very democratic one where consensus is used in decision-making.

However many communes have a very strong leader with a vision, and the members heed this person’s will. I have heard many horror stories of communes where one leader issued the orders and used all sorts of methods to achieve compliance. Let’s see, there’s Guyana (Jim Jones), Waco, Heaven’s Gate (the internet comet cult), that Swiss one, plus many others that haven’t ended in mass suicide, just mind control, sex control, dicipline by fear, etc. It’s a fine line between a commune and a cult, especially with a powerful charismatic leader whose authority is unquestioned. So I hereby warn those who would follow such a person. Much better to find a commune where there is no central authority figure, and power is shared equally among the members (good luck!).

The second hurdle is finding a place for the commune. Actually a commune can be anywhere, even in the middle of a city, depending upon those principles discussed earlier. If you’re a back-to-nature type you’d probably like to be out in the country somewhere. You’d could buy or lease an old farm, one where there hasn’t been too much soil contamination (again good luck). Old farms usually have lots of out buildings that can be usefully adapted to commune living. Old farms have another advantage, they’re old. That means they’re cheaper to rent or buy, and the commune can fix up the buildings.

It’s good to be in an area where the surrounding community won’t immediately be against you. It takes years to build trust in farm communities, and it would be easier if you had a measure of acceptance to begin. This would be the case if there is another good commune in the area. Some places where there are lots of communes are Oregon, and Tennessee. Of course there are many other places, and some communes are so low key, the neighbors might not even know it’s not a family.

I recommend if you are serious about starting a commune you go visit one, and maybe live there for awhile. This way you can really checkout the lifestyle, the commitment it entails and whether you could really dig it. In any case you would learn a lot, and maybe get some good ideas for your own commune. You can also get some ideas by reading up on Utopias and learn more about the philosophy behind the communal concept. Check out the Farm’s website to see how one of the more successful communes did it! You can also visit our Communal Living Forum and discuss this with others who’ve lived on communes. A good resource for finding existing communes is the Intentional Communities Website.

Have fun!

– The Old Hippy

Posted by: skip
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