Intentional Communities in the United States: Pathways to Social and Environmental Sustainability?

Authors: Christina Lopez*, Texas State University - San Marcos
Topics: Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: intentional communities, social sustainability, inclusion, environmental sustainability
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Napoleon D1, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Intentional communities have long interested academics in the fields of sociology, anthropology, and more recently, geography. Intentional communities (ICs) are small groups of people that live together—intentionally—to pursue specific goals. ICs exist in many countries and landscapes from urban high-rises in Australia to small rural villages in New York. Based on their specific goals or objectives, ICs tend to be classified into one of four broad categories: ideological, ecological, practical, or communal. Ideological ICs have a religious or spiritual purpose; ecological ICs strive to have low-impact living and connect with nature. Residents in practical ICs typically choose to live together for financial or social reasons— also termed co-housing. Lastly, communal ICs strive to share life, experiences, work, and income. Approximately 1,085 ICs currently exist in the United States (Fellowship for Intentional Community 2017). Most ICs—especially ecological intentional communities—maintain a goal of inclusivity and social sustainability. This study will use a mixed-methods approach to evaluate the extent to which known ICs appear to be inclusive and sustainable.

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