A few days ago, when writing this post about Thich Nhat Hanh, I wrote this bit about intentional communities:
"Some day, perhaps I'll write a book that looks at the logistics of how these communities are founded. For example, where does the money to buy the land come from? How are buildings designed? Is there a master plan for the land or does it emerge organically as new programs develop?
I'm also interested in the difference between intentional communities that have spiritual beliefs at their core and those that don't. Are the odds of success different?"
And then, I had a spark of an idea. Wouldn't it be interesting to travel around the country doing research and interviewing people? Of course, it would be harder at some communities than others. Monasteries that observe strict silence would probably not welcome my intrusive inquiries.
Now, don't worry that I'm about to sell my house, quit my job, buy a camper, and hit the road. No, while I still have a job, I'll not give it up. But in the last year, we've been facing some downsizing at work (a whitewashed way of saying that between 30 and 50 people have had their jobs taken away), which has prompted most of us to start thinking about what we'd do if we found ourselves out of work.
Once upon a time, an academic named W. T. Pfefferle travelled the country interviewing poets; he happened to be my supervisor when I was an adjunct at a local school down here, but I'd have been interested in his saga regardless. He kept a blog while he did it, and ended up with a book. His may have been the first blog that I followed, and in some ways, I ended up liking the blog better than the book, although I did thoroughly enjoy the book.
So, one of my back up plans, should I find myself unemployed with time on my hands: travel the country to visit intentional communities. I'd love to explore spiritual communities and artistic communities and social justice communities. I'd love to analyze the ways they intersect. I'd love to stay to participate in the community, if that's possible, even as I'd force myself to remember that a visitor doesn't really experience the fullness of the community.
And of course, I'd keep a blog and be open to other ways that the larger world might like to hear from me.
And then I'd love to write a book that would offer something definitive on these subjects that interest me so much. One of the definitive aspects would be a best practices and procedures for intentional communities that want to thrive.
And maybe once I'd travelled the country and gathered my thoughts, I'd create an intentional community all my own.
The Summer of Reading
4 weeks ago