Sunday, August 28, 2016

Book Review: Creating a Life Together (Co-Housing)

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In my travels, I find more and more of us "of a certain age" are talking about ways to build community, live together, support each other ... and avoid the dreaded institutionalized lives that face so many people.
I'm exploring a local co-housing project focused on expressive arts and the organizers insist on all interested parties reading this book.
It is a bit daunting as it rigorously strips the romance away and puts all the financial and organizational challenges in the spotlight.
I continue to be intrigued by the possibilities but am gradually becoming a little more informed about the pros and cons. More to come. 
 Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities Paperback – 2003 by Diana Leafe Christian (Author), Patch Adams (Foreword)
4.8 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

Amazon write up:
Creating a Life Together is the only resource available that provides step-by-step practical information distilled from numerous firsthand sources on how to establish an intentional community. It deals in depth with structural, interpersonal and leadership issues, decision-making methods, vision statements, and the development of a legal structure, as well as profiling well-established model communities. This exhaustive guide includes excellent sample documents among its wealth of resources.
Diana Leafe Christian is the editor of Communities magazine and has contributed to Body & Soul, Yoga Journal, and Shaman’s Drum, among others. She is a popular public speaker and workshop leader on forming intentional communities, and has been interviewed about the subject on NPR. She is a member of an intentional community in North Carolina.

Useful Review:
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a member of a group of folks currently planning an intentional community, I can testify to the fact that a million and one totally unexpected questions (not to mention the expected ones!) leap up to bewilder anyone thinking about creating an alternative living experiment. There are philosophical questions--what do we stand for (not just what are we against)? what's our vision?--and there are the nitty-gritty questions that have to do with land ownership, trusts, zoning permits, nonprofit status, and so on. Until you're actually in the process, you have no idea of how complicated the creation of an intentional community can be. No wonder fewer than 10% of planned communities actually get off the ground!

That's why Diana Leafe Christian's book is so invaluable. Written by someone who's been part of the intentional community movement for years, and a member of an ecovillage, "Creating a Life Together" could easily be subtitled "everything you always wanted to know about forming an intentional community but were afraid to ask." Especially valuable is its discussion of composing vision statements, thinking through what kind of land is right for your group, dealing with bankers who are likely to be wary of intentional living in the first place, and different strategies for conducting initial meetings and making group decisions--you'd be surprised how foreign consensus-style decision-making is to most of us.

A growing number of folks are searching for meaningful, peaceful, self-sufficient, and eco-friendly lifestyles-in- community that offer alternatives to the consumer-driven world. But building these communities is hard and sometimes perplexing work. Take all the help and advice you can get-and Christian's book is at the top of the list.

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