Posted by: terrapraeta | November 2, 2009

Barn Raising 101

I build this garden for us

In this garden
They’ll be no war
No racial prejudice
You’ll be my brother
Of any color
You’ll just be okay with us
We’ll love each day in peace
In hope that we will one day reach
The rest of the world
When they are ready to be teached

Lenny Kravitz, I Build This Garden For Us

A couple of years ago I wrote about intentional communities. Specifically, about my feeling that the biggest hurtle to successful community building being intentionality. It seemed to me (and still does) that in the process of trying to create a new model, we formalize so many things that should be natural that we end up destroying the very community-ness that we are trying to create.

Over the course of a long conversation with my friend Adam last week, I realized that I knew what my next step was. My next step toward building an unintentional community. And as it happens, as I do so it ties in rather nicely with his thoughts on next steps for building our web forum into a more useful tool.

For me, I realized that a lot of the thoughts I have put into eros, philia, agape (the ideas, more than the blog 😉 )apply equally to intimate relationships and community relationships. Perhaps that is a bad way to put it. More acutely, community relationships are intimate relationships, even if they are completely asexual. And so, the thoughts I have had about persons within a relationship needing to follow their own path above all are at least as relevant to communities as lovers.

So how to go about creating something without trying to create it? I have this trip planned for next year. I’m going to see lots of people I know and probably meet a bunch more that I have only spoken with online and probably some more that I never knew existed. And I’m going to talk to them. Where are they at in their life? What do they want? Do they have intentions yet, or just vague ideas? How soon are they ready for a change? Describe the image you have in your head of what its like. What is questionable and what is flat out unacceptable?

All of these things were already going to happen. But I only had a vague sense that I would be looking for inspiration, for something that moved me, and a vague hope that i would leave a little inspiration behind once I’d passed. But now I feel a little more directed. Partly because I realized that the biggest hurtle to overcome would be expectations. The ones we know about are rough, the ones we don’t even know are there are much worse. So my goal will be to dig down and discover those expectations in myself and in anyone that I speak with extensively. Because expectations can be modified, dismissed or embraced as is appropriate for each of us – but only once they are out in the open.

I think, once all is said and done, I will still be operating on the principle of “build it and they will come.” But once I have had these myriad conversations, I think I will have a better idea both of what I want and what is needed amongst the long distance “community” I am part of, and I will have the advantage of lots of people knowing what I am building that they might come and join me.



  1. Wuz wondering if you’d be interested in elaborating on “we formalize so many things that should be natural”?

  2. Vera —

    Neglecting to follow the links… bad girl 😉 That’s what the other article is about… and it refers to things like your comments on “endless meetings” Conversation should be conversation, not “planning sessions”. Consensus should be people finding the best available strategy available — not talking until someone gets too worn out to continue. And having a meal together should be a joy, not a chore list on the board. And so on.


  3. Bingo! 🙂

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