Organising Committee: Ian Hare, Hannah Drayson, Joy Foley, and Claudia Marcos-Sánchez Manrique.
Conference Team: Duncan Humphries, Lucy Thompson, Mark Jones, Cliff Jordan, Alberto Nunez, Will Simpson, Nick Davies, Meri McTague, Melvin Lyons, Kelly Carter, Jayden Dawn, Pauline Heffes, and Brigitte Koopmann.
Thanks to: the Diggers and Dreamers editorial team for all their support; Stellaria Media for support with sound, recording, and editing; and Soundart Radio for providing PA and lighting. Huge thanks to all of our volunteer team, members who contributed, and the summer 2022 Braziers Experience group.
The 2022 UK Communities Conference explored and celebrated intentional community in Britain. The event included introductions to communities and discussions around the value and practice of communal living. The event aimed to promote collaboration between communities to support a stronger communities movement. The event took place at Braziers Park over the weekend of 8–10th July 2022, and brought together residents of many communities, including Lammas, Brithdir Mawr, Laurieston Hall, Darvell, Tipi Valley, Canon Frome Court, Forgebank, Hardwick Estate, Trelay, Hempen, Tinker’s Bubble, and Old Hall, as well as Braziers Park itself. They were joined by independent and academic researchers, the editorial team of Diggers and Dreamers and many members of the public who wanted to learn more about communal living.
The conference started on Friday evening with a welcome dinner, grown, cooked and hosted by Braziers Park community and volunteers. Afterwards Ramshackle, a community-based band from the Hardwick Estate, led a ceilidh in our barn to help everyone get moving and to meet one another.
The programme began in earnest on Saturday morning began with an introduction by Aggie Forster in which she introduced the host community, Braziers Park, exploring themes of utopia, liminality and messiness, belonging, and power. To encourage a space of dialogue between participants we followed this with facilitated circle discussions, where participants identified topics they wanted to discuss at the conference; each being assigned spaces in the programme for the rest of the weekend. This year, the topics chosen were “how to live together”, “communicating community”, “inclusion and diversity – who can join”, “aims, culture and spirituality”, “power”, “practicalities and money”, and “where is the real fringe?”. The day continued with talks on community networking, community administration, ageing in community, circular economy, and co-living, as well as presentations from Hardwick Estate and Tinkers Bubble. Saturday closed with a community version of “Would I Lie to You” organised by James Dennis of Diggers and Dreamers, where panellists shared strange and surprising stories of life in community, followed by a communal ‘D.I.Y Disco’ where community members and conference participants picked and shared their favourite records.
Sunday featured talks on cohousing, communal living in Germany, the Bruderhof movement, and Brithdir Mawr community. In addition to the main stream of talks were workshop session, including a well-received session on non-violent-communciation and discussions of the potential for increased inter-community networking. The conference closed with a panel discussion, beginning with the question “why do we live like this?” before branching out in several directions with audience participation. This turned out to be so engaging that it ran for an extra 20 minutes without anybody noticing!
Community media producers Alice Armstrong and Lucinda Guy of Stellaria Media recorded many of the talks and panel discussions, as well as interviews with a number of the conference participants.