Don't tell me you've never thought about it. 

I've thought about it a LOT.

It's not a new idea, the commune, and there are many crazy examples of it totally not working, right? And then you hear of some group of families that share farmed together in the eighties quite happily for a time. Or you meet someone from Nimbin and they're totally selling the idea, man.

Adam and I spent some time in Israel and lived and worked on a moshav for a short time with family friends. I like the moshav idea. It's kind of the original share farm. We visited a couple of kibbutz and they were cool too, there was a bit of 'she went out with him then he went out with her sister who then married that guy' kinda thing with the kibbutzim. They'd all lived there a while. Crazy wonderful Israelis. 

Communes, to me, are places where people aim to share the load to build something together. Someone who likes baking makes all the bread. Someone milks the cow. Someone minds the kids while someone milks the cow. 

Idealised? Of course it is. I'm not the first to idealise it either. 

There's just something wrong about the way we live right now, boxed up in all these houses, paying too much rent or crazy fierce mortgages. There's something wrong with all this amazing rural land being bought up by wealthy non-farmers who drop in infrequently and who (with some exceptions) have zero interest in agriculture.

There's something wrong with me thinking so much about bricks and mortar, focussing on proprietary ownership, and forgetting about the transience of this moment and the ridiculousness of real estate. We don't take it with us. 

What if we could share the load? Share a piece of land somewhere. Someone to harvest the tomato and basil while someone else beat out pizza bases? Someone to fix the fence while someone does the school run? 

Is self sufficiency a realistic goal? Grow and make your own? How 'bout a whole group of people doing that together? 

Wouldn't that be amazing? 



If you're interested:

16 Comments on “commune

April 6, 2011 at 1:00 am

Amen! We certainly have wandered far from the path of true community living, haven’t we? I live in a great neighborhood with many wonderful people and I do feel a very real sense of community here, but what you’re talking about should definitely be more common practice, I believe. And for so very many reasons~ thanks for the inspiring read.

April 6, 2011 at 2:53 am

lovely post 🙂
a smallholding – growing my own and keeping a small flock or herd – has been my dream for a number of years. but isn’t it so disheartening when financial reality sets in? when we struggle to afford food every single day, it makes me wonder if we will ever see my dream become real.
but wouldn’t it just be grand if we found some fellow dreamers…helped each other and took the leap together…feel a little safer knowing someone’s got your back.
i’ve lost the bit of land that used to be mine and i cannot plant out my little seedlings. it breaks my heart, but your blog makes me smile 🙂

April 6, 2011 at 6:44 am

the way i see it is that society is just that. an extended commune.
everyone (generally) plays a role and we (generally) share everything.

its just on a larger scale so its harder to see the payoff.

i enjoy making radio which in tern iget paid for then go and buy some bread from someone who enjoys making bread.
my house is my house. everyones gotta have one.

so you see, no matter where you are you are part of a commune just by being here.

Suzie W
April 6, 2011 at 8:07 am

We used to go out west a few times a year on an isolated property with friend and all cook, eat, play and live together in a group of caravans…it was heaven. The sad reality is we will never be able to afford the land to live like that in our area. Weekend farmers you speak of made the properties trendy and now they are way over priced. So I have my little veggie patch and share my ‘produce’ around the family and dream.

April 6, 2011 at 8:15 am

Suzie W has the right idea I think. We could do it on a smaller scale if we could get neighbours on board… one neighbour has the chooks, one grows tomatoes and rocket, another does potatoes and pumpkin, another has the citrus trees… the cow might not work in suburbia but a lot of the rest may just be possible?

lily boot
April 6, 2011 at 8:23 am

I am SOOOO with you on this. Property prices here in Australia are ridiculous – hideous! People are paying 1.25 million dollars for a FIBRO house here in my suburb with 2 bedrooms and a rotting bathroom out the back. And as you said, tearing themselves inside out to do it. In return, what do they get – horrible pressure, long long long working hours, such a limited ability to connect with life and enjoy it on any level and meanwhile living in completely unsustainable ways. Just watching the final episode last night on the ABC on the four elements of our planet and how they have shaped our lives … fifth episode – how we are jeopardising everything – left me awake for hours, thinking of how we are lurching through life, drowning in plastic, spending too much, having too much and yet having so little, and being offered such rubbish. And we drive out of the city and our countryside is so beautiful – and so much of it is so undervalued (not in terms of price but how people use it) – there has to be such a better way. Where you are, wow! Imagine with that landscape what you could achieve if you lived and farmed gently for a small community. The ideas you’ve expressed are the ones that leave me lost in my dreams for hours. We’re hopefully working towards some of it – studying midwifery and working hard so that we may leave the city and start afresh with less, but oh so much more. I think commune’s are a marvellous idea!

April 6, 2011 at 9:43 am

oh yeah. I even have a picture in my head of how to work the land to keep the kids safe and to have some privacy and some shared land. ring me anytime for a chat!

Linda Woodrow
April 6, 2011 at 10:00 am

I live in a community, not a commune as you describe it but a functioning community, that has been going for nearly 30 years now. They do exist. Out of the thousands of very idealistic experiments that were started in the 70s and 80s, a few models were developed that worked. We are much less communal than you describe, but much more connected and co-operative than your average neighbourhood. I remember reading somewhere (I have a feeling it was in an appendix to Jeffrey Hodges’ book) that the hardest part of self-sufficiency is not the agriculture but the social, political and economic part. It takes skills that are so alien to our culture that we don’t even know they exist. But yes, I have the best of lives!

April 6, 2011 at 11:19 am

You and I can be in charge of baking the bread!

April 6, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Oooh I’ve talked about this with Shae from Yayforhome many MANY times… we have ten acres, more than enough land to share… but could we? should we? At the moment our council won’t allow another separate dwelling and I’m a ‘like my own space’ kind of person so sharing an actual house wouldn’t work for me… but oh I do dream…

April 6, 2011 at 9:30 pm

oh crap, I’m sorry about your land.

April 6, 2011 at 9:31 pm

I’ve been thinking about this comment all day. I think you might be totally right.

April 6, 2011 at 9:33 pm

Thanks for this, Lily Boot. Every community needs a midwife.

April 6, 2011 at 9:35 pm

yep, I think it’s on the social aspects ‘communes’ as such break down. We’re smart people though, we could figure it out, surely. Sound like you have. Wish I was living somewhere near your vegie garden Linda!

April 7, 2011 at 9:54 am

I like Bennoss’s comment. Out of interest, I just checked out on google how many households are within 1km of my house. Hundreds! I share a sense of community (i.e. meal and produce sharing, child minding and moral support) with only three of them! There’s something wrong with that!?

I’ve often dreamed of an inner-city urban community where our ‘apartment-style’ homes share a garden, laundry, tools, a vehicle, and recreation space. Individual backyards in the city is such a waste of space.

That said, if you set up a commune on your parents place i’ll be there in 15 years when i’m ready to retire 😉

April 8, 2011 at 12:57 pm

This is a great post! I just finished reading “Radical Homemakers” by Shannon Hays, which touches on a number of the questions you bring up….

It has certainly changed some of my thinking of community and sharing and coming together for the greater human good.


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