As a part of our #YearOfCommunity we will describe for you some we had the chance to visit and volunteer for.
Kadagaya is a small intentional community* in Peru, built around a scientific approach. Their founders come from an academic background and want to use science in each aspect of the community, from farming and building till social interactions. They stay away from specific spirituality or religious approaches, believing in constant experimenting and updating, rather than following a certain book or belief. They see science as a tool for humanity to overcome problems and technology as a way to free people to move forward. Also money is just a tool in their view, which they decided to use for the moment, to speed up the process, yet in their ideal vision there is no need for money, which tends to divide people. Their goal is to be able to fulfil the basic needs of each community member, defining together what basic needs mean for each person. They believe in a gift economy in which everybody does their best, without counting hours of contribution. If people need more than basic needs they can work online or open their own small business (they already had one up and running with chickens). At the moment we were visiting them, beside two founders and their 3-years old child, they had one local person and his family on board and they were expecting two foreigners to join soon as members. They also usually have volunteers around, many of whom consider to come back and become full members. Everybody lives in the same building, separated by curtains, which doesn't provide much space for privacy, yet with time they plan to build more houses. The goal would be a fully sustainable and self-sufficient space for 40 people, which can become an example for others, an alternative built before the crisis comes. Once reached a good standard the idea would be to create a network of like minded communities and share the knowledge and experience gained, so the model can be replicated faster.
Janajpacha is an ecological community and a shamanic ashram in Bolivia founded by Chamalu, who for a long time was its leader and guru. Janajpacha celebrated their 32 years recently, yet as a community they changed a lot. There was a moment when up to 100 people lived there together in their huge, beautiful and comfortable land, but by the time we visited them it was run by around 10 young people, mostly new to the place, although still very connected to Chamalu's teaching, even if he himself was not living there anymore. Janajpacha is a spiritual place, rooted in the Andean ancestral knowledge, in which the day starts from common meditation and finishes in a closing circle for those who wish to join. They organise various rituals, therapies, workshops and Spanish classes, trying to sustain themselves and the place through events as well as fees of those who decide to join - new members pay for the first few months of their stay. As a volunteer we were allowed to stay for one week for free, helping with the garden, cleaning, repairing, cooking. This meant, though, that every week new volunteers were showing up, which brought some frustration to people who lived there and had to meet the seamless flow of new faces every week. Members shared the main responsibilities among themselves, having different people managing the garden, maintenance, cleaning, taking care of volunteers, kitchen, etc. They had all the meals together, but also appreciated their individual time and space - the land and a number of beautifully designed buildings was definitely big enough to fulfill this need. There were many corners for meditation, ceremonies, mindful walks or connection with nature to be enjoyed after 6h of volunteer work. :)
Duraznillo is a small, isolated, Peruvian village in the middle of the Andean range. The community consists of around 60 families, which have lived together for generations. It's not an intentional community, yet it cultivates strong relations and mutual support. They sustain themselves mostly from growing organic coffee and they actively support each other, especially during the harvest. Inhabitants of Duraznillo collect coffee in big groups, devoting several days for each farm, to make their work more effective, but also more pleasant. Maybe today 10 people collect coffee on your land, which means you are responsible for the meals that day. Everybody meets early morning in your house for a warm soup and from there they go together to your plantation, which can be located 20-40 minutes walking from the village.In the afternoon you bring them lunch (depending on the day: rice, bananas, beans, yuka, eggs + coffee or orange juice). And in the evening they come back all together and join you once again for the last meal. Tomorrow maybe we'll go all together to collect coffee at your cousin's place and we will eat and meet in his house. The life in the village is quite simple and conditions a bit harsh, as it's located above 2000 meters and there are not many things which can be grown. At the same time access to shops is fairly limited - every Wednesday there is a small truck coming with staple products, but generally speaking inhabitants depend on what they or their neighbours can cultivate.Community in their case is not a new fashion that came along - it was nurtured from generation to generation and never forgotten.
*If you are not sure what (intentional) community actually means, check the definitions we proposed here.