I enjoy it when things I really like combine: cross country journeys, bikes, couples, and cooperative communities. “Within Reach” is a great film about the journey of one couple to seek out deeper community by visiting residential cooperatives across the US.
The film won the most votes in the Pachamama Alliance-sponsored “Possible Futures Film Contest” – and thus the “People’s Choice” award. The Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC) was a sponsor of the film. I’m part of the FIC through my cooperative in Cambridge. I really believe in the power of communal living, collaborating for the basic community around the household, sharing resources and learning to participate intentionally in community and in relationships.
I admire the filmmakers, Ryan and Mandy, for their efforts to go after their dream of finding a community. I think it doesn’t always require a cross-country journey on bikes, camping out in all weather, and the inevitable trials of interpersonal interaction under stress. I believe we can all find community wherever we choose, and it pretty much bubbles up spontaneously in many ways. One thing I appreciated was a blog entry from Mandy about the “secret ingredient” of intentional communities. But let me go on about intentional: meaning having the participants make an ongoing effort to support the maintenance of the community, rather than just being one of many communities that come and go – like a weekend with friends at the ski-haus, the holiday gathering, the pseudo-community of workmates under the dynamic of business imperatives (more on that another time). An intentional community has at its core a priority for its own sake – people participate on behalf of the expected benefits of the relationships of that community itself, not necessarily in order to “have a good time” to “get the job done” or what have you. It’s intentionally creating a place for spontaneous connections and discoveries to occur.
Mandy writes about the secret ingredient being: reaching within. Possibly one could call this the spiritual effort, but many traditions of introspection that are found in intentional communities are not specifically spiritual, or even specifically not spiritual. But the seeking of knowledge about oneself, the journey within, is noble, and that is one of the things I value about living in a cooperative community. But I can add that it is indeed one of the results of those outward journeys as well. Like riding bikes across a continent.