Page 4 - C.A.L.L. #29 - Winter 2007
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International  Communal  Studies  Association
                                         Conference at Damanhur by Bill Metcalf

             This June I met with 120 communitarians and academic researchers from more than a dozen countries
             at  the  2007  International  Communal  Studies  Association  (ICSA)  conference.  We  met  at  Damanhur
             Federation, a 32-year-old spiritual community near Turin, Italy. Every three years ICSA members meet
             and  share  research  findings  at  an  intentional  community  or  university:  in  2004  it  was  the  Amana
             Colonies in Amana, Iowa; in 2001, ZEGG community in Germany; in 1998 at University of Amsterdam,
             and in 1995, at Yad Tabenkin Research Centre, Israel.

             One of the most interesting and dynamic intentional communities in
             the  world,  Damanhur  started  with  a  small  group  in  1975  and  has
             grown to about 600 members, or ‘citizens’, as well as several hundred
             affiliated members living in Damanhurian centers throughout Europe.

             Damanhur  members  own  and  operate  numerous  businesses:  making
             silk  scarves,  jewelry,  specialist  cheeses,  and  high-quality  handmade
             goods.  The  community  is  involved  in  the  government  in  the
             Valchiusella Valley: a Damanhurian is mayor of the local town, and 22
             Damanhurians sit on other town councils in the valley.

             Damanhur citizens live in small communal households, called ‘nucleos,’ of 12-30 adults, plus children.
             Nucleo residents eat and socialise together, and share expenses and responsibilities for children and
             work.  Some  nucleos  comprise  more  than  one  house,  and  all  20  nucleos  constitute  the  Damanhur
             Federation.  Each  nucleo  appoints  a  member  to  sit  on  the  Damanhur  Federation  Council,  and  this
             Council selects two senior members, their ‘King and Queen Guides,’ for a six-month period to co-serve
             in the executive director role for the Federation. These officers can be re-elected or replaced, offering
             the  community  both  continuity  and  change.  Damanhur  has  a  sophisticated  range  of  governance
             facilities to make and implement decisions and resolve conflicts. The community is famous for their
             ‘The Temple of Humankind,’ a complex of seven linked underground temples characterized by beautiful
             stained glass domes, mosaics, carvings, and tiles.

             The ICSA conference was formally opened on June 29th by Professor Dennis Hardy of the UK, ICSA’s
             retiring President. We were then welcomed by Damanhur’s King and Queen Guides, Uria Sedano and
             Testuggine Cacao. Our first formal address was by Albert Bates, director of Ecovillage Training Center
             at The Farm in Tennessee, whose talk, “Communal Economics in a Post-Petroleum World,” emphasised
             the  importance  of  sustainability  to  the  intentional  communities  movement  -  a  theme  which  ran
             through the rest of the conference.

             Over  the  next  three  days  about  40  speakers  covered  topics  about  current and  historical  intentional
             communities, community networking, and a wide range of philosophical and theoretical issues.

             Presentations about contemporary intentional communities included: “The Utopianism of Longo Mai
             Co-operatives,” by Saskia Poldervaart (Holland); “Camphill: A Spiritual Community,” by Jan Martin Bang
             (Norway); and “Shri Ram: a Modern Path to Enlightenment,” by Tatiana Ginzberg (Russia). The talks
             about historic intentional communities included “An Owenite Community in Flotey-lès-Vesoul, Haute-
             Saône,” by Megali Fleurot (France); “Visions of Peace: The Shakers, the Bruderhof, and the World,” by
             Etta Madden (US); and my own presentation, “Ethnically Based Utopian Intentional Communities: The
             Example of New Italy, Australia.”

             Philosophical  and  theoretical  presentations  included  “Intentional  Community,  Modernity,  Post-
             Modernity,  and  Globalization,”  by  Michael  Livni  (Israel);  “All  Things  Common:  Comparing  Christian
             Interpretations of Biblical Communism,” by Deborah Altus (US); “Integrated Ecovillage Design: A New
             Tool for Physical Planning,” by Hildur Jackson (Denmark); “We Have Nothing to Hide: Public Nudity in
             North American Communes,” by Tim Miller (US); and “The Sound of Communal Living” by Chris Coates
             (UK). Talks about networking to promote and sustain intentional community included: “RIVE: Network
             of  Italian  Ecovillages,”  by  Mimmo  Tringale  (Italy);  “Ecovillages,”  by  Jonathon  Dawson  (UK);  and
             “Experimental Fields for Sustainable Lifestyle Models” by Iris Kunze, (Germany).

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