Imagine a Community…Intentionally

Featured in the December 2016 Issue Gig Harbor Living Local

By Brett Marlo DeSantis

We connect through story. In fact, we create our collective identities through the telling and retelling of stories. They are so critical that human civilizations thrive and organize, or diminish and fail, by how we frame these narratives.

Take a moment. Consider your place in this world: internationally, nationally, regionally and then, right here, locally.

Think of how you, and others you know, engage within your community. Would you say that you live in an intentional community? A place where a group of people share common values; where decisions are made by intention and design, consciously with deliberate purpose. A place where resources and responsibilities are shared. A community that serves as a hub to all it’s members, culturally, educationally and environmentally. Our own bodies are perfect examples of complex living communities.

We host a myriad of nonhuman microorganisms that provide us essential services in return for supplying them their necessary resources.According to David Korten of Change The Story, Change The Future: ͞Throughout the journey, Earth’s countless and ever more varied organisms captured and shared energy, water, and nutrients in interaction with Earth’s physical systems to create and then to continuously regenerate Earth’s soils, rivers, acquirers, fisheries, forests, grasslands, and much more.

Most every living organism, no matter how small and seemingly unimportant, earns its living contributing to the healthy resilience, and creative potential of the whole. All the while, they together maintain a climatic balance and atmosphere suited to the needs of the community’s individual members….We belong to Earth, and our health and well-being are inseparable from her health and well-being.͟ Without nature, there are no people. Remember Earth can survive the loss of humans, however we cannot survive the loss of Earth. So what’s missing from the community as we know it today?

The basic premise that human settlements can organize around bio-regional resources such as food, energy, and watersheds. Currently we are relying on some of these resources from outside of our region. However, we have the ability to cultivate and supply these resources, goods and services regionally. Imagine our local households with jobs that thrive on living wages. To have a healthy community, we need to create a story in which the characters are local people concerned for the health and well-being of those in which the community they reside.

For those people who are open to being an integral part of their community, there are real advantages to living in an intentional community. Most are built on a stronger sense of community than is common in a conventional setting. Members typically know each other better through work or leisure and share some basic values and goals. Patronizing local businesses who source regional goods and services assures a sustainable local economy. Supporting local governments to incorporate sustainable strategies into planning, building and alternative energy ensures our future stories. Designing and building healthy structures that adapt to our natural surrounding increases our resilience.

Doug Tompkins, founder of North Face, asks: ͞

Well, what happens when you get to the cliff? Do you take one step forward or do you make a 180 degree turn and take one step forward? Which way are you going? Which is progress?͟

Let’s finish this year and start the next with intention. Which step forward will you take?