2022 Audio Archive

With thanks for the recordings to community media producers Alice Armstrong and Lucinda Guy of Stellaria Media.

Talks and Workshops

  • Introduction from Braziers Park (Aggie Forster, Braziers Park). Established in 1950, Braziers Park is an intentional community, a residential college, and a continuing experiment in the advantages and problems of living in a group. Aggie Forster, a long-standing member of the community and appointee to the Committee of Management, spoke about various aspects of life at Braziers. This included the regular “sensory” meetings held at Braziers and their role in our unique decision-making process.
  • Introduction from Hardwick Estate (Miriam Rose, Hardwick Estate). Hardwick Estate in South Oxfordshire is a 900-acre organic and sustainably managed estate, and a thriving community, which is making the transition away from family ownership to become a charity with community involvement at its core. Miriam Rose spoke about her family’s decision to democratise their land, and the vision they have built alongside the community.
  • Introduction from Tinkers Bubble (Alex Toogood, Tinkers Bubble). Tinkers Bubble is an off-grid land-working community in rural Somerset (www.tinkersbubble.org), which has been established for almost 30 years. This session shared information on the structure of Tinkers Bubble, as well as the personal reflections of a resident on what aspects work well, the difficulties, and the wider role of intentional community in meeting the challenges of our times.
  • Introduction from Brithdir Mawr (Natalie Lamb, Nick Ward, and Jason Wood, Brithdir Mawr). This talk introduced life at Brithdir Mawr, a low-impact eco-community established in Pembrokeshire in 1994. The talk also explored challenges and possibilities for the future at Brithdir Mawr, where the current landowner wishes to sell the land.
  • Where are we now? 20 years of cohousing in the UK (Chris Coates, Diggers and Dreamers). In this talk, Diggers and Dreamers editor and UK Cohousing Network director Chris Coates reported on recent developments in cohousing in the UK, exploring and comparing several examples of different cohousing projects.
  • Managing a Large Collective (David Hodgson, Old Hall). Led by a long-standing resident of Old Hall and former Diggers and Dreamers editor, this session examined the day-to-day administration of a large intentional community. It aimed mainly at those who were not yet living in community, especially those who might be forming groups or exploring their options.
  • What is This Coliving Thing Anyway? (Penny Clark, Diggers and Dreamers). Since circa 2015, community living has gone commercial under the label ‘coliving’. What does this mean for the future of living? And should we be pleased that others are finally catching on, or despair at the commodification of community? This presentation covered the history of coliving, the forms it takes, the reasons for its rise in popularity, and how we might think about this new residential typology.
  • A Sector Network for Intentional Communities? (Melvin Lyons, Braziers Park). This session explored potential benefits to the formation of a peer network for the intentional communities sector. Participants were invited to discuss and discern themes and interests including mutuality, advocacy, influence and collaborative projects. The facilitator, Melvin Lyons, is a current ACRE resident at Braziers Park.
  • Urban Communal Living in Germany: Experiences from Berlin and Leipzig (Robert Morris). Drawn from his own experiences of living in Berlin and Leipzig during 2019–2021, Robert shared insights into what it’s like living communally in German cities, and how this differs from the UK. Topics included the architecture and legal structure of the housing stock and the extent to which this lends itself to urban intentional community; advertising, language, and German vocabulary that can help to convey ideas for a domestic life together; and Functional Living, an extreme form of shared living where everyone sleeps in the same room, and even clothing is up for being communalised!
  • Living Together (Mim Skinner, author). Mim Skinner, a writer and journalist living in the North East, spent her twenties living in an intentional community providing crisis accommodation in Durham City, before retiring to a quiet terrace with her husband. For Living Together, a book coming out this autumn published by Bonnier Books, she’s sharing their experience re-embarking on the communal living journey on a County Durham farm. In order to explore how we can live in more connected, sustainable and equal ways, she’s visited an eco-farm, a residential rehabilitation centre, the Bruderhof Christian community, L’arche’s learning-disabled houses, a London hacker house, a naturist community, Berlin’s inter-generational houses, urban co-living developments, and Buddhist group housing. Mim shared her experiences of this trip and asked how the intentional community movement might communicate its values and aims better.
  • Circular Economy in Ecovillages and Intentional Communities (Natalie Ralph, independent researcher). This presentation discussed intentional communities’ engagement with local circular economies (e.g., increasing reuse or repair and reducing waste), related social enterprises (businesses), and ways to reduce consumption of goods and materials while maintaining the ‘good life’ and sharing this understanding with wider society.
  • Ageing in Community (Kirsten Stevens-Wood, Cardiff Metropolitan University). Intentional communities are often cited as sites of innovation and creativity. Utopian scholarship describes them as “practical utopias” or sites of experimentation; however, intentional communities are also located in the society within which they are formed and, as such, face similar dilemmas around notions of care, responsibility and obligations around how they accommodate ageing members. Often the elephant in the room, this talk examined four different communities and their collective experience of ageing.
  • Finding the Sweet Spot (Chris Taylor, Canon Frome Court). This workshop helped participants explore a range of ways to enhance their environmental footprint in the world, and have a regenerative and positive impact on the local ecosystem. The focus was on having fun and thinking positively about opportunities that could be created. It explored how to reduce carbon footprint and enhance the immediate environment.
  • A New Model for Community Living (Gill Atkinson). This talk proposed an eco-network and neighbourhood for individuals, families, interest groups, and small communities functioning as a whole. This dynamic model maximises personal choice and freedom with a structure that enables life to be lived in harmony with the earth, provides long-term security, is financially sound, and fosters good personal and social relations. The talk was also an invitation to get involved in a currently forming community based on a vision of renewed Celtic tribal living.
  • Introduction from the Bruderhof (Allen and Channah Page, Darvell). Love your neighbour. Take care of each other. Share everything. We at the Bruderhof believe that another way of life is possible. We’re not perfect people, but we’re willing to venture everything to build a life where there are no rich or poor. Where everyone is cared for, everyone belongs, and everyone can contribute. This talk was an introduction to life in the Bruderhof’s network of communities.

Interviews with the organising team

  • Ian Hare is an ACRE resident at Braziers Park where he has been working to organise the Communities Conference. He talks about his aspirations for the event and ways that intentional communities might benefit from sharing knowledge.
  • Claudia Marcos-Sánchez Manrique our hospitality convenor speaking about the impact and the work of the community working together to put on the conference, the ideas that have come from the conference, and her experiences of communal living in different cultures.