|Arden Gild Hall|
Friday, August 1, 2014
What is Utopia exactly? What is an intentional community? Put simply, a intentional community is designed from the beginning around common ideals and the assumption that individuals within the community will pool resources and share responsibilities to work toward those ideals. In The Ardens (Arden, Ardentown, and Ardencroft) those common ideals are the single tax (based on Henry George); the importance of art, music, and theater; and the environment. Arden is a Tree City which boasts 50% green spaces including two forests and a 73% canopy.
If you know of my love of art and nature, it is easy to see why I would place myself here, in Arden. But I was drawn to the intentionality itself. My hometown of Lititz, PA was created, not because it was on a trade route or near a river, but as a religious community for the Moravians, a protestant sect that placed a high value on music. My ancestors came there and helped found the place. It wasn’t a closed or intentional community when I lived there, but that is where its roots were. Later, when I attended college, I sought out special interest housing. Instead of rushing to become an adult in my first apartment, I chose to live in housing with a purpose. In my case, it was honors housing, but we had activities with all the houses, many of which were formed around cultures (The French House) or interests (The Music House).
And too, I have a fascination with the Revolutionary Period of our country’s history. I’ve read all the biographies of our founding fathers, visited the homes of Washington, Jefferson, and Adams. I’ve been to Williamsburg no less than fifteen times. Why am I such a groupie of this time period? These men got to invent a freaking country! They got to start from scratch and found a place based on their ideals. Talk about intentionality.
Probably the biggest influence on our decision to move to Arden was the many years we lived without community. In the eighteen years leading up to our move, we lived in a spot which wasn’t accessible to much. We had to travel five miles to a grocery store, over twenty miles to attend a church that matched our beliefs. The school district where our kids went to school was made up of a lot of small little burgs and villages. There was no centralized town around which to rally. Added to that was the fact that in the most recent high school mock election, Obama came in third to Romney and Paul (who was a write-in candidate). The sense of isolation and the fact that our liberal ideals were so far removed from the population made us feel very lost. We were not only looking for a place to belong, but for a place where we could make meaning.
A lot of press has been given to living the intentional life with an emphasis placed on the individual. Not everyone can make the move to an intentional community. My hope, with this blog, is that those who are curious about life lived in such a place can have their curiosities satisfied and move on to new questions about what makes meaning in their own lives. What makes community? How can we satisfy those very human needs? Perhaps we can have a community right here. Feel free to join the conversation in the comments section.