How do we want to live tomorrow? If given the option, many people would prefer a living situation less isolated than what most of us experience today. The human being seems to have a natural preference for living in community. Yet, only a tiny percentage of the population currently enjoys the pleasures of being embedded in a group of like-minded people who share the same values, like living more in harmony in nature and growing your own vegetables. And, more importantly, accompanying each other through the various life challenges as we grow older, like raising children, dealing with health challenges, emotional crises, growing old, and celebrate life together through play, music and celebratory meals.
The majority of people in our modern society remain trapped in relative isolation, but then there are those few who actually dare to take the leap and start to build an intentional community* together with other good-hearted people. Sadly, statistics show that in spite of the good intentions of the people involved more than ninety percent of these experiments fail within the first two years.
"Forming a new community is like simultaneously trying to start a new business and begin a marriage — and is every bit as serious as doing either." Diana Leafe Christian [ read more ]
The field study of this project focuses on the remaining ten percent and aims to find out the common success strategies and unique strengths of a number of selected group experiments that have overcome the initial challenges and are still thriving after many years.
The aim of the Community Research Project is to find out and publicly share the unique accomplishments and wisdom that each of these communities have gained over a long period of growth, and how society at large can benefit from their insights.
Of the many existing communities worldwide that have been successful over many years, I will be spending time with some 20 communities and find out about their particular strengths. Over the course of two years I will be living and actively participating in each of them, and also ask them a list of carefully prepared questions. This field study represents the heart of this project.
*We speak about an “intentional” community when it is deliberately created out of the preference of people to live that way (in contrast e.g. to the members of a church or the inhabitants of a certain part of a city for which the general term “community” is also used). “Community” in the context of this project always means “intentional community”.
The travelling part of this project was ushered in, by my visit to the European Ecovillage Conference in Ängsbacka (Sweden) in July 2017, where I presented the project and did a lot of networking.
You are cordially invited to participate in this adventure through my Travel Blog here on this website. Constructive feedback is always appreciated. At the end of my travels I plan to settle down in one place for several months to evaluate all the data and personal impressions from my interactions, observations and interviews in the form of a book (Susanne Ratka: Intentional Community – A Happy Choice / Lebensmodell Community, planned for publication in 2019) and also continue to share them on this website. Make sure to sign up for my Newsletter so I can keep you up to date!
This field study is a non-academic independent research. It will be supported by Prof. Shabnam Mousavi of Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin. The selection criteria, catalog of questions and interview procedures of this qualitative empirical research are based on objective scientific standards.