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An article in the Atlantic by Kentaro Toyama describes Transition Towns as "the latest in a history of intentional communities that have experimented to find more enlightened alternatives to modern economically driven urban life."
The movement's basic premises are that the consequences of peak oil and climate change are imminent; that governments and entrenched powers are not yet taking necessary action; and that the most practical response is for local communities to transition to resilient, localized communities that wean themselves off of fossil fuels and long-distance trade. Though every community is encouraged to find its own solutions, the dominant activities are to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, to start gardens and otherwise grow food locally, to experiment with local currencies, and so on.
Russia: Beyond the Headlines, an international newspaper focused on Russian news, politics and culture, recently posted an article on the growth of homesteading communities, referred to as "eco-communes" in rural Russia.
Thousands of Russian professionals have lost hope for a better life in cities. They have taken to the forests to create their own utopias independent of the state. The eco movement has increased several fold in recent years. Some have found harmony, others feel disillusioned...
New communities of homesteaders have sprung up across some of the most remote sections of Russia in the past decade, including Siberia, attracting thousands of Russians in search of a simple, self-sufficient and environmentally friendly lifestyle free from state control and big city corruption.
The number of "eco-communes," as they are called in Russia, has grown dramatically in the last decade, and the movement back to the land is drawing professionals weary of the country's corruption, pollution and new consumerism.
This article discusses the impact that a group of young Christians are hoping to produce by building community in a violent neighborhood in Gresham, Oregon. This work is tied to the tradition of new monasticism, emphasizing communal living, hospitality, contemplation and engagement with the poor.
In the two years since David Knepprath and Josh Guisinger moved into the rough-and-tumble Barberry Village complex, roughly a dozen young Christian men and women have made Barberry Village their home.
Their goal: Create a sense of community in a chaotic neighborhood overrun with drugs, prostitution and gangs.
An article in the Fashion & Style section of the Times this week credits urban agriculture, social media and a flourishing arts community as bolstering the trend toward sharing, bartering and living communally in Brooklyn.
"The groundswell of social technology today is creating unprecedented opportunities to share and collaborate," said Rachel Bosman, an author of the new book "What's Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption." "Farmers' markets and Facebook have a lot in common. All around us we're seeing a renewed belief in the importance of community, in both the physical and virtual worlds."
Despite the lingering hippie connotations, collectives, which might be described as self-managed groups of people with similar interests working toward a common goal, are a thoroughly modern phenomenon. And nowhere in New York is this collective mind-set as embraced as it is in Bushwick.
"Urban ecovillages work with surrounding neighborhoods and the city at large to bring a whole systems perspective to urban planning and community development activities. The L.A. Eco-Village Demonstration is part of an international network of sustainable neighborhood groups which seek to model healthier ways of living based on environmental sustainability and social and economic justice."
The slideshow includes an excerpt from Brian (Ziggy) Liloia's Cob House blog:
I live at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, an intentional community in Northeast Missouri devoted to sustainable living. We have a few ecological covenants that members agree to live by, but beyond those guidelines (one states that all energy must come from renewable sources, and another that says all lumber must come from reclaimed or sustainable sources), it is up to members to decide how they want to live. There is nothing stating that members must eat only local food, or that they can only drive some number of miles in a vehicle per year - members make choices based on their own ecological values, under the umbrella of the ecological covenants.
Sixty-three-year-old Zumra Nuru, a longtime promoter of gender equality and religious freedom, founded the society in the 1980s. As a child, Nuru was skeptical of the inequality he observed on a daily basis.
Though Awra Amba could claim only 19 members when Nuru founded it, the thriving community has received international acclaim in recent years. It has also been the subject of several documentary films.
“I regard it as the model for the world community on how gender issues should be treated,” said EU Ambassador to Ethiopia Tim Clarke in a Christian Science Monitor report. “I have come across nothing else like it anywhere in Africa—and indeed the world. I am using it to inspire the work of my office here on gender mainstreaming and empowerment of women.”
Read the full article and watch a short film on Awra Amba, here.
A recent article in Britain's Independent describes the successes of Lammas Eco-village, Brithdir Mawr and Steward Wood communities in the UK.
If reassurance were needed that life in a commune really is a plausible alternative to more conventional ways of existence, remember that for years several of these places have been proving their viability across Europe.
These very modern pioneers seem to be providing invaluable new possibilities for housing, employment and industry in Britain. And if that isn't incentive enough, Wimbush [of Lammas Eco-village] concludes, looking out of his window at the rolling countryside below, you might try asking yourself what's really important: "For me, living in a beautiful forest garden, surrounded by my family, is infinitely more rewarding than living in the rat-race could ever be. And that is a choice open to everybody..."