For years I have been fascinated by community. In our greater society, we have become alienated from each other, with the average person not even knowing their neighbors. Communes, co-housing, intentional and spontaneous communities are alternatives to this alienation. People instead choose to come together to work together collectively. These galleries are aspects in a long term project documenting various types of alternative community.
43 imagesAlpha Farm, located in the Coast Range, was established in 1971 by founders who made the conscious choice to shift away from social activism towards establishing a simpler lifestyle in an intentional community of like-minded individuals. A common phrase at Alpha Farm is "work is love made visible." Rural community living requires a great amount of work, but there are also moments to stop and appreciate the environmental beauty and the diverse personalities who make Alpha Farm what it is. Life at Alpha farm is geared towards simplicity and minimal impact. Homes are heated with wood, food is grown in a large organic garden, and chemicals and other environmental disturbances are avoided. Unlike many communities that have closed themselves off from society, Alpha Farm has deep ties in the greater community, working often with neighbors in Deadwood and known throughout Lane County. The Alpha Bit Cafe/Bookstore, opened in 1972 in nearby Mapleton, is both a business for the farm and a way to interact with the greater community. Other community outreach and business opportunities include farmers markets, a rural postal route, and a consensus/facilitation training institute. I came to Alpha Farm in early 2009 to stay for two weeks to document community living. That two weeks turned to a two year residency. I gained insight into community and rural living, and the development of this project continues, and expands into Deadwood and other communities in the area.
76 imagesThe original Rainbow Gathering was in 1972, and has been held annually in the United States from July 1-7 every year on National Forest land. The locations are carefully scouted so that clean water is available and disturbance to the ecosystem is limited. People come early for scouting, and stay until every last piece of trash is cleaned up and and impacted areas re-seeded. Other regional and national gatherings are held throughout the year, in the United States and throughout the rest of the world. Rainbow extends beyond the time of the gatherings. It is a network of community and service, and the only requirement is "a belly button." Many people who travel and live on the road come "home" to Rainbow Gatherings to connect with their "family." There are no leaders, and no money is exchanged. Food, filtered water, and basic needs are provided for the people, by the people. These photographs are from gatherings I have attended, and include the 2005 National in West Virginia, the 2006 National in Colorado, and the 2011 National in Washington State.
41 imagesWind Spirit Community is located in the desert of southern Arizona, twenty miles from the town of Globe. Thriving with a healthy water source in an otherwise dry desert, it has been described by many as a "slice of heaven on earth." The green canopy of pine, citrus, and native trees provide shade and sanctuary from the relentless summer sun. One of the original founders still lives on the land full time, along with seven other residents (as of April 2012.) Decisions are made by consensus, and all residents work to steward the land, grow organic crops, take care of chickens, and host various workshops and retreats.
21 imagesHugo Macsac was a community house in Lyons, IL, a working class suburb of Chicago. Five friends in their early twenties and one dog (the names create the acronym "MACSAC") moved into this house in the summer of 2004 wanting to create community and creativity. A couple of the residents ran opening mic and improv nights at a local coffee house and would invite people to come over after shows. Nearly twenty four hours a day, the house was full of people playing music, sharing conversations, and coming together to find joy. The sense of community and belonging at "The House" provided refuge for these young people, coming of age in a recession and an uncertain future.