SEEDS OF TOMORROW: Communities That Work by Oliver & Cris Popenoe Popenoe

SEEDS OF TOMORROW: Communities That Work

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There hasn't been an up-to-date survey of alternative communities for quite a few years, and this one is relatively modest: the Popenoes, who run a D.C. foundation devoted to various esoteric/exoteric causes, basically provide descriptive listings of 21 ""intentional"" communities around the world, from Scotland (Findhorn) to Japan (three centers of quasi-Shinto ""New Religions""). Each entry follows a roughly similar format, giving a brief account of the founding group's aims, the origins and development of the community, size and makeup of present membership, means of subsistence, and administrative setup. The authors have included a broad range of approaches both secular and spiritual: the middle-class residents of Stelle, Illinois, who operate several small businesses while working to comply with an invisible ""Brotherhood's"" blueprint for surviving a worldwide calamity around the year 2000; the Israeli artists' eyrie of Ein Hod (quite frankly dependent on tourist excursions from nearby Haifa); the shops and businesses (like the London Buddhist Centre) that attempt to embody the ideal of ""right livelihood""--i.e., everyday work as ""one of the most effective supports for our attempts to make ourselves."" Both democratic and authoritarian systems of internal government are represented, from low-keyed, nearly unstructured consensus arrangements (the Renaissance Community in Gill, Massachusetts) to the emphatic hierarchies of groups organized under a single spiritual head (the Domaine du Bonfin in Provence) or ruled by a forceful view of common spiritual purpose (the Universal Brotherhood in Balingup, Western Australia). The Popenoes generally strive for a stance of noncommital sympathy that plays down lurid or easily ridiculed elements. Unfortunately, the result is a little like a collection of civic-booster restaurant listings, though the Popenoes do gently hint that agreeable-sounding humanistic goals may not provide enough in the way of group self-definition to sustain many years of disciplined commitment. Best, then, as a beginner's reference tool.

Pub Date: Sept. 19th, 1984
Publisher: Harper & Row