The #6 Reason to Live Together
Because it’s a better form of economics
Just as democracy has been put to work, refined and made more immediate and effective in the micro-society of an intentional community, so too with economics.
Over time various economic models have been trialed in communities - from a fully shared and collective economy to private enterprise and combinations of each.
Despite the fact that the economy of an intentional community can never be completely separate from the mainstream financial system, communities can nonetheless experiment with their own small scale internal arrangements.
And the values of these economic systems reflect the ethos and principles of community. Trading systems are based on co-operation, mutual benefit and the common good. Land and property are often held in common ownership.
Cars, tools and other assets can be pooled and the passion, energy, abilities, knowledge, skills and time of members are freely shared for the good of all. Personal fulfilment, the welfare of each member and the benefit of the group are considered to be more important than economic success or personal financial benefit.
Communities encourage people to re-evaluate sufficiency and to move away from consumerism towards voluntary simplicity. They also expect their members to make contributions to the community as a condition of their membership, whether it be a share of communal duties such as, cooking, cleaning, showing visitors round, or attending meetings and taking up positions in the governance structures. These work contributions might be unpaid or they might be logged as labor credits in an overall scheme of work quotas. Some communities allow members to make a payment to community funds in lieu of work.
Through sharing resources and sharing work community members have more time for other things that are not just about making ends meet - things such as community celebrations, common work projects, networking with the wider community movement and involvement in social justice causes.
It must be said, however, that although sharing means that the living costs in a community can be much cheaper than it would be otherwise, this is offset by the high ‘buy-in’ costs required of many communities – either building, buying or renting a house. OWILC strives to keep 'buy-in' costs as low as possible.