Aug 232011

“It takes a village.” A war cry for decreasing juvenile delinquency and improving educational success. The saying has become almost cliché amidst the myriad talk show topics and political references. But what does it really mean? How can “the village” really improve the lives of struggling youth and how can it impact the average family?

To us “the village” is really an intentional community. It used to be that individuals and families gathered together in close proximity to share the responsibilities of daily life. From child care to collective meals to protection from predators, people found support and relied on each other to get their basic needs met. Today in our society, families live farther and farther from their loved ones. They can get their basic needs met through one trip to the local “Super Store” and spend a majority of their time in isolation. It seems that our reliance on others has shifted and that depending on others is not only inconvenient, it is frowned upon. A sign of weakness.

But what we gain in independence, we lose in connection. And while some of us are fortunate enough to be a part of a great network of friends or religious groups or parent groups, we often find that people are reluctant to ask these groups for help when it counts. While we will show up for playgroups or nights out on the town, we hold back from asking our networks to help with childcare when we are in a bind, or to help make a meal when we just can’t get it on the table. For these things, our individual families “tough it out” and “find a way to manage”. While we may be successful at managing, we may also be missing out on an amazing opportunity to be a part of a bigger community.

Intentional community building means that groups of families design ways for the collective group to help meet the needs of all the individuals. In doing this, existing groups go from “good” to “great”. From “friends” to “family”. From “managing” to “thriving.” How does this happen? The possibilities are endless. With our facilitation we will help existing groups to build out ideas, establish methods, and create the framework for things like babysitting co-ops, pot-luck dinners or rotating meal sharing systems, garden or house project teams, and more.

Parenting suddenly multiplies time and financial demands in ways that no one expects. Maybe families were not meant to negotiate these challenges in isolation. Supporting each other in more meaningful ways can elicit positive impact on our core basic needs; like sleep, nutrition and social connection. It can give us amazing opportunity to experience our connection to each other in a more profound way. It can help us to be better friends, better people and maybe most importantly, better parents.  Not to mention, some values are best taught through community: Shared responsibility, giving and receiving, unity.

If you have an existing group that would like to come together for intentional conversation contact us. Our professional facilitation will provide a process for full participation in building consensus on a clear vision and action plan. Let’s move toward making the village more than just a cliché.

 Posted by at 1:58 pm

  One Response to “What is Intentional Community?”

  1. I first learned that my community is an “Intentional Community” when someone interested in joining us told me so. I just think of what we are doing as a throwback to neighborhoods that were normal when my grandparents were raising my parents. Many people long for the good old days when communities were tightly knit, good values were deeply rooted and there was a sense of security from knowing that all was well in the neighborhood because people knew and cared about one another. But the conscious act of choosing those values and companions to anchor one’s life makes a community even stronger than the ones we are wont to fantasize about from long ago.

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