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Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  257 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Creating a Life Together is the only resource available that provides step-by-step practical information distilled from numerous firsthand sources on how to establish an intentional community. It deals in depth with structural, interpersonal and leadership issues, decision-making methods, vision statements, and the development of a legal structure, as well as profiling wel ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published January 1st 2003 by New Society Publishers
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Shira and Ari Evergreen
When I found this book, I jotted down, "looks like the way to go if you're working on an ecovillage or intentional community project and don't want to doom it to failure." Two careful reads later, I'm pretty sure I was right, and we're using the book to guide our own ecovillage project as it forms. This volume is jam-packed with insights into the many legal, financial, social, and other issues surrounding the complicated but world-changing subject of intentional community. There are sample agree ...more
Sara McDonald
May 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
One of my favorite community building books is "Creating a Life Together" by Diana Leafe Christian. She has done a lot of consulting work with intentional communities, helping them overcome conflicts, work their way through intractable conflicts, and there is even a thorough discussion on finding land and setting up legal arrangements. I love this book because she is a bit critical (not negative, but critical) of the dreamy notions of community building, and promotes a practical approach.

There
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Aleksandar
Jan 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely crucial reading for anyone interested in joining or starting a sustainable community. It's written from US perspective, but most of the information is applicable globally. The following I found particularly useful:

1) Ideas for finding our shared Vision and Mission
2) Guidelines for putting together a detailed agreement between members
3) Conflict resolution and communication processes
...more
Richard Thompson
Nov 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
notes: subtitle: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities / Recommended by Sam at Christmas when we were talking with Sam and Kate, David and Susan, and Jesse and Peter about the possibility of sharing a piece of land in some kind of community. Christian looked at lots of intentional communities and tried to identify what the very few successful ones did right. She looked at everything from vision statements to zoning, and in the end the overarching message was: forming a ...more
Matthew Tong
Jun 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating read about the basics of what is required for founding an intentional community. Was a bit of slog reading through some of the matters of zoning and corporate structures, but I feel those sections helped cement that starting an intentional community is no walk in the park. Both inspirational and grounding.
Luke J
Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A must-read for anyone interested in intentional communities. While it covers everything from legal agreements and zoning laws to the nuts and bolts of process and emotional conflict, it’s not just valuable for friends who wonder if it would be fun to buy a tract of land and settle down together. This book is about how to live together with other people, perhaps the most crucial and under-appreciated skill in contemporary America.

Diana Christian’s years of experience working with idealists has g
...more
Evan Anderson
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Simply put, the most practical book we have of the intentional communities movement. Unlike some of the more utopian views that came out from the 1960's - 1980's, this book, while inspiring, focuses on the day to day practice and structure of living communally. The author definitely writes from experience and information gathered from a wide array of communities and communitarians. From start to finish, practically all the tools for community living are there in the pages of this book. As such, ...more
Matt
Jul 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
While the book is pervaded with a leftist "green" perspective, I recommend this as a guide for anyone interested in the the theory and practice of founding an intentional community - regardless of orientation. The author is an experienced veteran of such movements, and is filled with examples from actual communities, bursting with cautionary tales and useful examples. It doesn't dwell on the wishful thinking and optimism which pervades many of these projects, warning would-be founders that the c ...more
Nicole
Jun 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This was the first book I ever read about intentional communities. It made me realize that these communities were what I'd been looking for, and has changed the intentions of my life in major ways. Now I'm very focused on building a community I can live in, one that really makes life better for everyone. ...more
Mary
Mar 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book has added value in providing tools and structure that applies to any group work. It would help anyone in a Leadership capacity.
Emily
Jul 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is so practically based that it helps dispel the fears as I move into a co-housing community.
Arthur Davis
Aug 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: homestead
A useful book of advice if you're trying to start a close-knit community, or honestly any kind of non-hierarchical organization to a lesser degree. Christian does a good job of avoiding being too dry, though this can be a challenge when trying to explain the different tax and regulatory effects of registering as an LLC vs a 501(c)3 or the like. Perhaps not the best book to read cover-to-cover if you aren't considering setting up your own community, but probably a vital reference if you are.

It is
...more
Luke
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-info
Worth it if even only for chapters 5, 6, 17, 18 - which cover procedures, common pitfalls, schemas, and places to go for further education on consensus decision making, conflict resolution, and recruitment. The advice is specifically geared for people going off to live together, but can be applied to any 'flat'/bottom up group, like a cooperative, dungeons and dragons group, or even band. ...more
Sarah
May 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: future
reading for a book club looking at this from a poc/immigrant/queer perspective - what makes a living community?
this is mostly nuts and bolts for future imaginary dream farm life
Suiko Betsy
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read this book once ten years ago, have used it as a reference book ever since, and just re-read it come to cover. This book is a treasure for anyone interested in intentional community life.
David
Oct 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I would consider this book to be pretty close to the "Bible" of community living. A required-read and great place to start for anyone interested in creating or living in an eco-village, co-housing, or other intentional community variant. Despite being almost 20 years old, the principles and wisdom laid out here are still very relevant to any endeavor today. This being said, I would love to see a revised and updated version of this book that describes possibilities enabled by modern and coming te ...more
VKNask
Nov 20, 2021 rated it liked it
I read this as part of a book group, and the group gets five stars but the book wasn't as helpful as expected. Reading it served as a jumping off point for many awesome discussions, but mostly it was examples of what not to do and a disappointingly high percentage of privilege in the success stories (when someone just has a million dollars lying around, of course obstacles are overcome). The book was also written before the housing bubble and recession and I think a lot of the real estate and fi ...more
Erin
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Since borrowing this book from a library , I have twice had conversations with people who have said this is the book to read if you are interested in forming an intentional community. The emphasis on planning and visioning is very valuable. I appreciated some of the ideas for topics and themes to discuss as a group in order to really get to know each other on a deeper level, which is a great idea to do if planning to live and work together. The explanations of varying legal entities are also ext ...more
Ari
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Practical workbook/guide for those interested in founding and living in intentional communities. Extremely useful practical advice, including hard statistics on what has proven workable and what has not. Everything from land acquisition tips to sample vision documents to legal options for incorporating and information on types of foundations. Also important, essays on the roles (and non-roles) of founders. US focused, though some aspects may be helpful internationally. Recommended.
Siobhan Hypatia
Sep 04, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: community
Excellent manual on creating intentional community. It covers all of the practical and relational aspects to consider and offers approaches to dealing with them. It's very grounded in the context of North America, so the content of certain chapters doesn't apply so much - such as the types of legal entity to consider - but it's still interesting to read through the thought process and know what to keep in mind. ...more
Sarah
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I did not finish this because I'm no longer interested in the details. I think much will have to change in the world before ecovillages become available to the average person, so knowing the legal restrictions now isn't useful.

Still giving this a high rating because if its a topic you are interested in, the writing is clear and it is written by one of the top experts in the field.
...more
Logan Streondj
Mar 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book covering many important aspects of community building, first and second parts are about organizing land purchase, financing and organizational structure which is mostly pertinent to USA, the third part "Thriving in Community" is the real gem, talking about conflict resolution and organizational structures to make it easier. ...more
Sue
Jan 31, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Even though this book was published in 2003, it is full of wisdom and practical tips on starting and growing intentional communities. I wish I had read it sooner! I took a Sociocracy for Intentional Communities course with the author in 4Q2021; she now recommends Sociocracy over consensus. Excellent book.
Kin
May 23, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Very practical and helpful! Easy to understand and to come back when needed as well. Really good for newly formed communities or people who are thinking of starting a community.

The only thing that didn't work well for me so much is that it is based heavily on the US context.
...more
Jon
Dec 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A succinct discussion of what is needed if you're thinking of a life beyond the 'burbs. ...more
Shroomie
Feb 12, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Great tool for starting communities - I recommend along with it 'Starhawk - The Empowerment Manual' to add more about social dynamics which in the end account for most struggles of any community ...more
Lily So-too
Oct 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book will probably take me a very long time to finish reading. Maybe every book does. I am not sure that I have ever finished reading a book.

So far it is really interesting. It is not giving me all of the long-sought answers I crave about what doesn't work in community life or collaborative work, but it is teaching me to ask better questions, I think about what might work or why.

I am most enamored of chapters 4 through 6 which I've barely begun to read but which contain ideas about communit
...more
Ingrid Janse-Wood
Dec 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: not-finished
It must be because I am practical oh, but I love this book. It touches on all the important parts such as being willing to grow emotionally to be able to form an intentional community. One of the things that stood out is the quote that creating an intentional Community is like getting married as well as starting a business together.
Anna
Nov 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
This would have been a five-star book, except for its total lack of editing, which was very disruptive. Otherwise, it was very thought-provoking (but still not the book I'm looking for about how to build rural community with the people already around you). ...more
Trish
Aug 24, 2009 added it
I'm working through this book in order to learn how to start a successful intentional community someday. ...more
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