Whenever I tell someone of my intentions of joining a “commune” I invariably get asked “Why?” I do my best to answer them but there are many reasons- more than I ever really have time to explain. So henceforth I will be referring them to this post, in which I have the space to fully explain the many aspects of what motivates me to make this change in lifestyle.
My motivations can be summed up into two big umbrella reasons: I believe living in an intentional community will allow me to align my lifestyle with my personal values and at the same time grant me a higher quality of life.
In all cultures there are things that are simply taken for granted. Each person in a culture is taught what is and is not normal and how to behave and how not to behave. In the west we call this enculturation and/or socialization. As I have grown as a person and have looked around me at the world I find myself in, I have realized that the lifestyle I have been raised in has repercussions that I am no longer comfortable with.
I believe that we humans as a species are living in a way that is out of balance and is leading us towards some incredibly difficult crises on a global scale. We are running out of fresh water. We are facing human-caused climate change that is already causing real damage to both human and all other life. We have severely drained the oceans of fish and yet continue to fish in record numbers. Our inexhaustible thirst for oil has led to fracking and mining the tar sands of Alaska with severe ecological consequences already, and more sure to come. Our global political system and global money system have led to massive inequality, leaving billions of us with a terrible quality of life. We have already cut down half of the Earth’s tropical forests and destroy 18 million acres of forest (an area the size of Panama) each year. Species of life are going extinct at 1,000 to 10,000 times the normal rate due to human causes. It is so severe that scientists have termed it the Anthropocene (Age of Man) extinction event, the first in 66 million years. Our rivers, fields, oceans, and skies have all been polluted with toxic chemicals which have been implicated in our many new health crises. We regularly kill each other on a massive level. This is not an exhaustive list.
Up until now my lifestyle has contributed to these problems. I drive a car and eat food from California, adding to demand for oil and creating pollution. I’m sure I have bought clothes made in sweatshops, contributing to human misery. I have eaten fish, helping create the demand that has led to overfishing. My tax dollars have gone to a government that kills civilians in the Middle East and all over the world. I have created what I am sure is an obscene amount of trash, adding to landfills. I have eaten factory farmed meat, which is produced under horrifying conditions. And I am no longer okay with these things.
Living in an intentional community such as East Wind will allow my lifestyle to align with my values. I will no longer need a car, and my carbon footprint in general will be massively reduced. I will be able to eat healthy, local, food produced without hormones, chemicals, or antibiotics. As I will no longer have money I will not participate in a system that breeds inequality, and also will not pay taxes that fund the death of others. In general by living a sustainable lifestyle I hope to no longer contribute to the destruction of the planet.
I also believe that by living in this manner I will have a higher quality of life and simply be happier! Like most people, work is currently a necessary evil in my life. I do the same thing for 40-50 hours a week so that I can have a somewhat decent standard of living. And then I have to get gas, and do laundry, and cook, and clean, and get an oil change, and discharge all of the various chores outside of work. Between these two things, work and chores, I end up with very little time that is actually free. And what free time I do end up with I usually just want to use to rest and recover from the work and the chores that I have been doing. And then the cycle repeats…
East Wind requires 35 hours of labor per week (and only 27/week on holiday weeks which occur once a month!). In exchange one gets a private room, food, clothing, and medical care and $150 a month for personal spending. Not only will I work less actual hours than I do currently, all those aforementioned chores are taken care of communally through the labor system. And no chores means that my free time is actually free. And as if that wasn’t enough, other than two hours a week of kitchen clean up (which is mandated), I will be free to chose how to allot my labor! I will be able to follow my interests and passions to contribute to the community as best I can. Furthermore, the works of my hands will be completely directed towards benefiting those in community with me (and myself!) rather than just making the owner of my company more money.
I am also very excited to live in community, despite not even really knowing what that means. We humans are very social creatures, and the modern world is very lonely. To quote The Ascent of Humanity:
“Simply observe that the financially independent individual, among other equally independent individuals, has no basis for community except for the effort to “be nice” and “make friends”. Underneath even the most well-motivated social gathering is the knowledge: We don’t really need each other.”
And we are not really needed. We could easily be replaced. While I can only guess at it now, I have a feeling that living in community will meet needs I never knew I wasn’t having met, and I will be a much happier person for it.
And I will be in a community with those who hopefully share most- if not all- of my values, and have also chosen to live a more harmonious life. East Wind is very open minded, and I will be so much more free to express my individualism than I am in modern society. As East Wind’s property is 1000 acres in the Ozarks, I will also be living much closer to Nature, which has always soothed my soul. And when the time comes to have children, I will be able to actually spend time with them and help them grow and develop as a father should, instead of disappearing off to this mysterious place called Work for the majority of their waking lives. All of these things are priceless to me. I am also excited to have a simpler style of living. To live in a culture that doesn’t emphasize material possessions and doesn’t constantly assault my attention with advertisements.
In short I believe that making this change in lifestyle will allow me to follow Gandhi’s injunction and be the change I want to see in the world. I will be able to live my beliefs and be an example to others.
Originally published May 19, 2015