Top 5 Reasons to Live in Intentional Community
Ever wondered why someone would want to live in a community like Sunrise Ranch, or the many other communities and eco-villages around the world? This way of life isn’t for everyone, but many of us find it really rewarding, fun, and transformative. Over 8,000 North Americans live in intentional communities. Here’s my top 5 reasons for being at Sunrise, my community in Colorado.
1. To be Surrounded by Conscious People:
Whenever you make choices about how to live your life, it’s supportive to have others around you who are making similar choices. Living with conscious regard to spiritual, environmental, and holistic health is not a mainstream practice. Many find that to lead an alternative lifestyle takes support and agreement from a community dedicated to that. There are a lot of diverse perspectives on how to translate that intention into practical living, but holding the common purpose to “do your best” makes a profound difference. Healthy community isn’t about all seeing things the same, but committing to care for the earth, other people, and ourselves in the living of our everyday lives, however that shows up for us individually.
2. To Develop and Grow Personally:
Living and working with the same group of people gives us the opportunity to be more aware of our own personality—the strengths and the challenges. Many communities will also have specific times to do emotional work, either in a group or with a coach. At Sunrise we have a coaching program, transformation groups where people can check in about their learning curves and victories, and we use ShadowWork techniques to facilitate emotional breakthroughs.
3. To Improve our Ability to Build Healthy Relationships:
Intentional communities often have agreements about how to communicate feedback and personal needs. You have to learn to state your boundaries and ask for what you want. At Sunrise, we teach Clean Talk, where we separate data from our assumptions about that data. Usually, people do not know the difference. When I practice saying “When you did (fact)…, I felt angry” instead of “You made me angry when you did that!” I know that I’m communicating cleanly. This way we don’t blame people for our reactions, but find ways to build healthy relationships through honesty and purity of heart.
4. To Reduce our Carbon Footprint:
Communities are great places to practice sustainability through agriculture, renewable energies, and sharing resources. Some things take more work, like moving water pipe lines daily to irrigate our crops. Other things just come naturally with living and working on the land, like not depending upon gas-powered vehicles for commuting or transporting all of our food. There are many eco-village communities like Dancing Rabbit where residents agree to follow ecological covenants and sustainability guidelines. At Sunrise we compost, recycle, raise grassfed beef and non-certified organic vegetables, and never use any pesticides or hormones.
5. To Have a Unique Experience of Family:
Prior to the Industrial Revolution, it was common for extended family to live close on farms. Infants and grandparents would live together and older generations passed on important knowledge and were blessed by the care given to them by younger generations. That has in large part been lost in our society. Community gives us the opportunity to be with people of all ages with a diversity of life experiences. In addition to having many different families at Sunrise who build their own family life in their individual homes, we also have the experience of being one big family. A family that shares space and resource, doesn’t always get along, and ultimately wants to work well together and create a welcoming, safe home for whoever comes here. We have picnics, game nights, dances, eat most meals together, and generally have fun!
For more information, check out the article “What’s True About Intentional Communities: Dispelling the Myths”
Raised in New York and Connecticut, Helena is a graduate of the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies in Redlands, California. Her self-designed emphasis was: Facilitating Personal and Organizational Transformation: Psychology, Sociology, and Religion. Her Masters is in Business Administration with a concentration on non-profit management. Helena currently lives and works at Sunrise Ranch. Her passion is to provide settings where people can know and express their creativity, power, and unique spirit—whether in a spiritual seminar, an office meeting, or around her dinner table.