Some reflections on this bastion publication from the UK’s intentional communities: Alan Dearling
A new edition of an ‘old friend’! This is the latest incarnation of ‘Diggers and Dreamers’, which is an amalgam of articles about, and from within intentional communities, co-ops, co-housing, communes and more. Plus an update of the directory of the UK’s self-identified ‘intentional communities’. I’ve visited many such spaces, places and groups of people around the world – especially those in Australia, and the Netherlands, Denmark and Lithuania AND some of those based in the UK. Some started out as squats, some even were based on the experiences of festivals and the Green, eco-movements, spiritualty/religious beliefs. Many are rural, a fair few are urban, some have involved self-build, a lot feature low-impact responses to modern living.
There have been many communities that have existed from the 1960s and ‘70s, evolved, morphed and some of those included are very new and are more extensions of the co-operative movement as responses to the on-going housing ‘crises’. Some are hi-tech and experiments in alternative and cutting-edge technologies. Others are very low-tech, off-grid, and involve tipis, benders, and earth-bermed structures lovingly formed by crafts-people rekindling old skills (often borrowed from other world cultures). There are also places which are based on ‘communality’, shared ownership and explorations of new social relationships and economic structures.
As the Diggers and Dreamers’ Website says:
“For many people another way of living starts with this book…
So you’re fed up with living in a little box. Maybe just by yourself. Maybe with your family. Just being a docile consumer alongside the billions of other docile consumers. And the combined outcome of it all is a wrecked planet.
Isn’t there something more to life than this? Couldn’t we have access to many of the best things in life without doing such harm if we were prepared to share more with our neighbours? Perhaps in an intentional community – that’s a community that has come together by intention rather than by chance.
Believe it or not, many people have been living in intentional communities like this for decades. And it’s not all hippy crash pads where nobody does the washing up! This website will open your eyes to the multifarious ways in which communal living happens in the 21st century.
It’s your way into the future!”
‘Diggers and Dreamers’ as a loose-knit organisation offers a gateway into what is a ‘parallel universe’ that has continually evolved, and the new edition reflects the diversity of intentional communities. The 12th edition of the Directory offers ‘stories’ from the ‘edges’ and ‘hearts’ of these communities, and views from some of those who research such. It also offers practical insights and links, opportunities to go out and meet people who live in intentional communities. It suggests opportunities for volunteering, taster-visits, self-build courses, WWOOF-ING (worldwide on organic farms) and more.
From my own (about) fifty years of visiting friends and colleagues in some of these spaces – the motivations, beliefs and daily practices of the people are just as varied and sometimes conflictual as ever. The articles in the book and some of the Directory descriptions share some of the issues. For example: Rules and personal and communal ‘boundaries’ and ‘relationships’, sexual and otherwise! – ownership – inheritance – sharing in the work – age structure – degrees of communality – finance issues – relationship with the outside community and society – personal beliefs – pets – child-rearing – cleaning and maintenance etc. It’s a long list…and can equally be a source of creativity and challenges!
The D&D network is nicely eclectic. So, whether you’re a potential ‘dreamer’ of new options for living, or, a ‘digger’ wanting to get your hands dirty with self-build and permaculture – this is a way of finding out more. They also have many more books and resources which you can look at on their website. Kirsten Stevens-Wood, one of the editors of the Directory, says: “During the last couple of years we have seen an upsurge in enquiries to our website and on social media.”
Chris Coates, one of the main D&D movers and shakers has kept in touch with me over many years, especially in connection with European free cultural spaces, new Travellers, festies and more. His blog is a great resource through ‘Communes Britannica’: http://blog.utopia-britannica.org.uk/
For intentional communities in Europe and beyond, you might also want to explore Eurotopia: https://eurotopia.directory/