me again--how do you feel about intentional communities?

suz1023October 8, 2008

last month i posted a question about developing my land into building lots and what criteria people want and don't want. the feedback was very helpful,and i am continuing my research.

so,,today's question is about intentional communities. if i use the word intentional in a name or advertisement,,what does it mean to you?

golf communities are intentional, in that they are focused on living adjacent to a golf course. some intentional communities are very far-out from that,they may share all meals in a club house, or be a farm where they all work in the fileds or farm store (as do the amish,for instance).

on my land,i'm thinking more in terms of people who love the outdoors and may share some elements such as a garden,walking paths, maybe even a drilled well and /or septic systems. the focus here will be sustainable living, as much as we can achieve.

what does the word intentional mean to you?

thanks for your input,,my teachers are very impressed i'm doing research this way!

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-- characterized by conscious design or purpose
-- designed: done or made or performed with purpose and intent

-- Intended or planned; done deliberately or voluntarily; Done with intent

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 1:11PM
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Some of the things you mention might run cause major regulatory and permitting issue with the local county/city/state/etc.

Here are some samples:
-Shared dining. This might cause the need to follow commercial standards for commercial kitchens. There could be a need for certain commercial equipment and practices, as well as inspections from the health department or other government entity.

-A shared septic system - There are rules on septic systems (government regulations) regarding the sq footage of building, the # users, # bedrooms/bathrooms, etc. Often when there is multi-family, then sewers are required and septics are not allowed. Often septics are only allowed for single family properties. When you start sharing things, it could move into the multi-family category.

-Shared Well - Same issues as the shared septic. I think in most municipalities, that they would have issues with a well that is shared by more than one household.

I think intentional sounds weird, as the word is too general.

IMO, after having lived in a subdivision with an active HOA and strict rules , I think that having people attempt to share things will end up being a total mess. People all have their own way of doing things and folks like their privacy. I can see arguments about weeds in the garden and then others arguing that someone else took away the weeds that were actually beneficial. Some folks arguing to someone took all the tomatoes, and others letting them fall and rot(and folks arguing about that too.)

Then you will have folks argguing over using the trails at night or having their dog on the trails (maybe the dog scares the wildlife, or the urination is yellowing the shrubs), others will be concerned about hoodlums using the trails and want security or enforcement or ID checking at the trails.

Bottom line, in most subdivisions, folks that leave each other alone get along best. And privacy is of utmost important. If you make folks share, you will eventually have enough infighting and such that you will be able to write a book about it in a very short amount of time. The book might be titled something like "The well intentioned intentional community - big dreams and why it failed"

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 1:31PM
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I don't think the OP wanted a definition of "intentional", but more like what ideas does the term "intentional community" bring to your mind. Sort of like the ink blot test. Look at this ink blot and tell me what pops into your mind.

Anyways, if that is what you wanted, I immediately thought "cult". I don't know why, but "intentional community" doesn't sound like a good thing to me.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 1:32PM
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Intentional community does not make me want to live there. Gives me sort of the same feeling as institutional.

However, what you describe it to be sounds much better than the word itself. I think that is why master planned community is often used as it isn't as negative. The master plan can mean different things.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 1:42PM
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Have not lived in one myself but have known people over the years who have. In our area there are folks who build houses which share walls like townhouses do and share a large piece of land on which there is organic farming. While some people work the farm and/or take on other grounds maintenance tasks, most families have members employed in the community. Thus they do not actually support themselves on the land or through enterprises undertaken together. They share some communal indoor living space as well and practice ride sharing, some home schooling with shared responsibilities, and other such 'sustainable' notions. In general, it is considered a good thing with generally good relationships with the surrounding community. You do not have to live there to buy into the produce of the farm. They do have to participate in long meetings taking up governance issues, etc., so to live there requires patience with 'process', because they try to make decisions through consensus rather than voting.

I rather admire the effort but know that I personally do not have the patience for working to consensus. I think it could be a nice trend in the future to build more environmentally friendly dwellings and share resources. It's just not suited to everyone.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 4:16PM
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I typed up a long message and lost it somehow. Here is a website of an 'Eco-village' that is being built near me. I think this may be similar to what you are talking about.

Just a word of caution. If these are new to your area, don't expect locals to be warm to this idea. This development is nicknamed the hippie commune in my area.

Here is a link that might be useful: Example of eco-village/co-housing

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 4:36PM
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intentional community to me emphasizes community, e.g. I will look out for your children and perhaps you will watch my dog when I am away. It means community meetings and an emphasis on operating by consensus. It means sharing when/where practical. It means having a common set of goals so that we can agree on prioritizing bird watching v. dog ownership for example. It is a word that while I like the sound of it, it pushes all my shy buttons in a way that is off-putting for me. I have belonged to a number of cooperatives over the years, and for the most part found it all to be too much. I would hate to find myself in a living situation where I would only feel comofrtable reading books that improve my mind or watching a television that is permanently tuned in to PBS

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 5:42PM
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I also have the feeling that once you start to link multiple houses to a single septic system you would run into the requirement that you have a sewage treatment system instead. Not only huge bucks, but also a regulatory nightmare as well. (Ditto for wells that serve more than one residence. Federal law is very strict about public water supplies.)

The place to reseach shared water and sanitation system requirements is at whatever government office would be doing those approvals in your area.

In many states zoning regs also would come into play. This would affect your proposed lot layout and perhaps require considerable engineering and construction costs to lay out new roads.

Of course, devlopers do this all the time, but they are usually well capitalized and can afford the significant upfront costs.

A visit to your local planning and/or zoning boards will help you get the picture.

As far as whether designing an intentional community would be good or bad marketing: I think it depends on what area you live in. There certainly are already the sorts of things you are describing. I know of several in NY and Vermont. But I think the market for them is quite limited (alas!) Which is not to say they are bad, but I think most potential buyers don't want so much communal living, unless it's focused on something in particular like, golf, or boating, or aviation, or riding, or performance auto racing (I just read about a very high end development with huge garages and a private high speed auto race track).



    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 1:44AM
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To me, the words, "intentional community" are too vague to be very useful from a marketing perspective. If the words can cover everything from golf villages to Amish-like enclaves, they're not precise enough to tell the prospective inhabitants anything truly useful.

In your place, I would go with something more descriptive.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 2:58PM
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Hmm, depends on the state I guess, but community wells and package septic systems are common in rural GA. I like the sound of the sustainable/nature-oriented community. For more info and examples, search using these terms: Planned Unit Development, Conservation Subdivision and Neo Traditional Development.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 4:29PM
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I wouldn't look twice at something called "intentional living" because that would not tell me anything about the style of neighborhood. But, if you call it a golf course community then I know there is a lareg emphasis on golf. I agree with abbycat9990 use something more specific like nature oriented community and some of her other suggestions. It gives the community a goal.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 11:06AM
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"Intentional communties". LOL. Back in the old days they were called "towns". Builders and developers came in and put in the infrastructure and some of the community buildings. They advertised for people to move to live there and buy or build homes. They had town meetings. They shared services like wells, town squares, police protection, schools. This was common in settling the western frontier. Many communities thrived and are still around today. Many became ghost towns due to the developers being unable to atrract residents or important sustaining businesses, or just plain ran out of money to finsish the project.

Before 'intentional comminties' and 'towns' there were 'colonies'.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 7:48PM
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