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Communiversities

 

 

The original Communiversity proposal for a new social structure

(1968) 

 

*  "Communiversity" is my term for a self-sufficient university-based community.

 

* A Communiversity would consist of a cluster of intentional communes centered around a small community supporting university.

 

* The community supporting university is the key to the Communiversity concept. This type of university would support its cluster of communes by supplying all the technological information and organization needed to create and maintain a healthy community. In other words, the university would be a working school as well as a center for study. Besides teaching liberal arts and science courses more or less Free University style, the university would function as the center for community management.

 

* The university would also serve as the center for ecological study and action for the surrounding local and regional eco-systems. The university would be co-operatively run by commune members to meet the needs of each commune as well as the whole community.

 

The population size of a Communiversity would be around 500 persons, the universal average number for a dialectical group. The number of persons per commune with a Communiversity will have to be worked out between participating communes. A maximum population limit for each commune and the whole community should be mutually agreed upon and enforced. If not, both commune and community structure will eventually disintegrate with over-population pressures.

 

* The Communiversity would be located rurally away from dense population areas. Ideally, the community site would be at least 1500 acres of forest and open meadows well watered by streams or a river.

 

* Architecturally, the Communiversity would break away from the practice of designing community structures like concrete fortresses. Communiversity homes, school, and work environments would be organically designed, varied, and unobtrusive. Great care would be taken to insure that local eco-systems would be kept from harm.

 

* The Communiversity could support itself in our competitive economic environment through various small co-operative enterprises such as: organic food production, mail order supplies (Whole Earth Catalog-type stuff), printing and publishing, arts and crafts, fairs and festivals, and manufacturing self-sufficiency kits for communes and communities, to name only a few possibilities. The community-based industries could have big city outlets with a rotating schedule for community workers. As self-sufficiency technology progresses, communiversity members would have to spend proportionately less time doing community support work.

 

* The beauty and utility of the Communiversity concept lies in its role as an organizing catalyst for a true pluralistic society, albeit on a small scale. By combining strength with the communiversity structure, intentional communes will have a greater chance to survive and flourish, providing needed models for better social arrangements. The co-operatively run communiversity provides the basis for the unification of communes without the loss of communal identity. How the participating communes are socially constructed and internally governed would be their own affair. The most important criteria for membership within a communiversity would be each commune's ability to co-operate with the rest.

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This proposal in 1968 led to the formation of Lime Saddle Commune in 1972 as the organizing base for an intentional cooperative community, the Communitarian Village. The project failed before it really began as investors acting on the bad advice of one lawyer backed out the purchase of the 800 acre Oregon land site for our Communitarian Village. Lime Saddle Commune didn't last too much longer as it too went the way of the great majority of new communes in the 1960's and '70's communal movement in America.

 

 

The Mateel Communiversity

(1986)

From 1985 to 1990 I maintained a community activist resource library and meeting hall called "The Bridge"*. Of all my social change efforts, The Bridge was the most successful. We had many different groups using the facility and many local people in the Mateel community (Southern Humboldt County in N. California) gained cooperative community information and learning experience in their visits to The Bridge. In 1986, I tried to develop a new version of the Communiversity concept to fit the times which were fairly anti-communal as the communal movement had died in the previous decade leaving a legacy of disbelief in the intentional cooperative community approach. The Mateel Communiversity also didn't last long (about four months) as a major problem arose which was lack of follow-through commitment by local people. The Communiversity needs "students" to function well and our Mateel Community is full of older counterculture veterans who have their own visions to follow. In short, we had too many chiefs and not enough Indians.

* See The Bridge page.

 

Below is a listing of classes and events that went into the Mateel Communiversity before dissolving. One project though was resurrected a few years later, the New County formation project which became the Sequoia County effort to break off from Humboldt and Mendocino Counties to form a new county with a new and fairly radical agenda. The Sequoia County effort was unsuccessful at getting enough signatures to put the measure on the ballot and it too dissolved but the impetus for formation of a new county still simmers in the Mateel and Southern Humboldt community.

First Meeting: January 6th at 7PM at The Bridge will be the time and place to lay out a schedule of dates, hours, topics, and formats for the Mateel Communiversity as a learning, teaching and study center. Here it will be possible for those of us interested in some fairly well defined topic to decide to gather periodically to work the topic over. Enclosed is a Study Group/Class Proposal form. You can fill this out as much as is pertinent and return it to The Bridge or bring it to the January 6th meeting. We're hoping to begin to fulfill the original mission of universities--to pass on, and further develop by critical discussion and experimentation, solid knowledge and understanding. As a Communiversity, our learning activities would have the specific intent of directly benefiting the community we live in.

Topics for study that have been already raised include "Old Growth/wilderness", "Climax Social Evolution Theory", "The Individual vs. the State", "Healing", "Studies in Spiritual Ecology and New Gnosis literature", "Social Process, Social Psychology", "Works of Ivan Illytch", "Anthropology", "Vegetarian Cooking", "Arms Control issues", "History-- Goddesses and Patriarchs", "The Legal System", "Women's Studies", "Co-counseling", "Life drawing", "Course in Urantia", "Shakespeare reading", and "Philosophy of Transformation". Bring yours-

 

 

Third Meeting Friday, January 20th at 7 PM is the evening to deal with the issue of the Mateel Communiversity as Economics. This issue was on almost everyone's mind (with a few strong exceptions) at the December gathering. The range of discussion covered cottage industries, local businesses & services, creation of an actual trading center, marketing products & services to the world, community self-sufficiency systems, a money-less economy, kinship economics, developing saleable skills, sheltering the homeless and feeding hungry people. Economics was spoken of as a paradigm for our whole lives. With the idea that our community is unique in its commitment to developing and living alternative ecological and spiritual lifestyles, we see the Mateel Communiversity as economic democracy in action providing a local community-run organizational base to assist in marketing our homegrown skills needed by all societies facing post-industrial change-over or extinction. We see the Mateel Communiversity as an economic umbrella organization that will help facilitate cooperative cottage industry development and cooperative self-sufficiency so we can free ourselves of crippling economic dependency on single revenue sources such as marijuana growing or timber harvesting.

Fourth Meeting On Friday, February 3rd at 7 PM there will be a First Birthing Ceremony for our new Mateel Communiversity. The time from Jan. 31st through Feb. 3rd is auspicious as Chinese New Year, Wiccan Sabbat, Imbolc, Candlemas, Midwinter, Ground hog Day, the 3 days of the Lesser Eleusian Mysteries, are all crowded in together. This is a time to orient ourselves spiritually and deal with the theme of New Consciousness. We gather to determine how to effect the transformation necessary to birth a new era.

 

More Notes on the role of the multi-faceted Communiversity in Communitarian Society:

 

 

 

 

 

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