Welcome to the International Communes Desk
Millennials Are Reviving Co-op/Commune Life
Just like macrame plant hangers and The Village People, the idea of commune or co-op living feels pretty 1970's. But with rising rent prices and a yearning for real connection, some millennials are embracing that style of living.
After-school teacher Eric Jones, 28, plays the accordion during a spring cleaning party at Bob the House, a big, old University District house with a big wooden staircase and stained glass windows here and there. The co-op houses nine people, who share three bathrooms, and has seen plenty of people come and go in its 35-year existence.
"I can't imagine living by myself," said housemate Lizzy Fay, who has lived at Bob for two-and-a-half years. "It does seem a little bit old time-y sometimes. There are really lovely moments when everyone's here working on a puzzle together or just sitting and chatting. I feel like that sort of visiting with each other doesn't really happen anymore. Being present with each other."
The nine housemates share food that they take turns shopping for.
"That means that we all put money in every month to a communal bank account that we buy groceries from so we can get the nice, bulk organic groceries and cook together from that," said 26-year-old Samantha, who has only lived in co-ops since she graduated from college a few years ago.
Samantha says all housemates are required to attend a weekly meeting every Sunday night at 9 p.m.
"At every house meeting we always just check in about how our week was, how we're feeling, anything we need support with or anything we're celebrating," said Samantha.
Bob the House family crest. (Photo by Rachel Belle)
Welcome to our new website
It doesn't matter who you are, this site has something for you. If you are just plain curious, a whole new world awaits you. If you are a student looking for information about the types of communal living, in Israel and around the world, you will find it here - or details on how to find it. If you are a member of a commune or an intentional community, the vast variety of styles of communal living around the world will give you both inspiration and encouragement.
The common denominators of the communities I visited
The impressions of MICHAEL LIVNI, a member of Kibbutz Lotan, garnered in the summer of 2001 from three conferences: the International Communities Studies Association, the International Community Meeting and the Global Eco-village Network (GEN). Copied from CALL No. 19.
The first common denominator - the experiential dimension for myself. I did not anticipate that I would have such a really good time at all these meetings. I can't recall ever having met so many fascinating people and ever having made so many friends all in one short month.
Most of those present, like myself, had made a very conscious decision to live in a co-operative framework, Their openly stated motive for doing so was that such a framework makes it possible to allocate energy for Tikkun Olam (world-mending). There was a true feeling of togetherness between all of us from all over the world, aged mostly 30-50.
The general atmosphere was such that I felt compelled to teach the Israeli hit-song of 20 years ago "Ani Ve-Ata Neshane et Ha-Olam" (You and I Will Change the World). And so I did, with the help of Sol from Kibbutz Tzora.
Another common denominator was the pleasant, non-aggressive and yet quite determined leadership of the women. Behind that feminine softness - steel-like determination. In most communities this feminine leadership has an ideological rationale behind it - either implied or overtly stated - which has developed beyond the "ad hoc" American approach.
A new kibbutz movement
An article by JAMES GRANT-ROSENHEAD, a member of Kvutsat Yovel, describing the new communities in Israel that are co-operating to create a new Kibbutz Movement. Copied from CALL No. 22.
Crises and privatisation are still ravaging the traditional kibbutzim, once heralded by Buber as 'the experiment that did not fail'. Meanwhile, new models of kibbutz are emerging, and tentatively forming a network - the Circle of Groups - between themselves. Is this the beginning of a new kibbutz movement?
One model is the 'urban kibbutz', such as Tamuz in Bet Shemesh. In their own words: "Kibbutz Tamuz is an urban kibbutz, a small Jewish community, and like the traditional kibbutz, Tamuz is a collective. Its 33 members function as a single economic unit, expressing the socialist ideals of equality and cooperation, ideas and praxis. However, unlike the traditional kibbutz, we are located in an urban environment, keeping us in tune with what is happening in society around us." (see http://www.tamuz.org.il/english/about.html)
The urban kibbutz title is also used by Migvan in Sderot (www.migvan.org.il), Bet Yisrael in Jerusalem (www.reut.org.il), and Reshit in Jerusalem. However, when considering the Circle of Groups network, this terminology is misleading, since neither the words 'urban' nor 'kibbutz' best describe many of the other groups which have been founded in recent years...
Then and Now (1957-2011)
Exiting the RAMC, in British Army, I was sent to Jerusalem for a year's study at the 'Machon,' the Institute for Youth Leaders from Abroad in 1954-55. All the 72 students, from some 10 different countries, contracted to finish the year and then do 2 years Movement Work in the various Zionist Youth Movements around the world. Ours was HaBonim.
We studied hard for six months. Hebrew every day. Jewish History. Geography. The Arab/Israel Conflict. Zionist History. Community Organisation. Scout craft and Camping. And Handicrafts. After six months study we all moved to kibbutzim, all over the country, and spent our time working half days, picking oranges and studying Hebrew in the afternoons. We all came back for the Final Month in Jerusalem, speaking Hebrew fairly fluently.
The girl sitting next to me in class was to become my wife. When we got back to The UK we got married and worked in The Movement for two years, in London and Dublin. We made 'Aliyah' and got back to Kibbutz Amiad in 1957. My wife was seven months pregnant with our first of three sons, Yonatan.