Communal Societies

Articles

Vol. 38, No. 1, June

From the Editors
The editorial team is pleased to present the spring 2018 issue of Communal Societies. As usual, the topics of the feature articles range widely, from contemporary intentional communities to those of past centuries. One article by Emily Welty considers...
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The Communal Ethos of the Mennonite Central Committee: Testing the Bounds of Community in Kenya
Mennonites have their North American roots in small, rural, agrarian communities--spaces that have nurtured their pacifism and communal ethos. But what happens when these values of communalism and mutual aid become institutionalized in an international...
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Truth Seeker on the Holy Mount: DeRobigne Mortimer Bennett's Descent from the Shaker Feast Ground
The Shaker Ministry at New Lebanon were jolted when, in August 1837, young girls in the South Family of the Watervliet, New York, community began reporting visionary journeys to the spirit world. Scholars have referred to this period as the Era of...
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"Owned and Controlled by Negroes": Allensworth and the Study of Subnational Space
One late summer day in 1915, a man was caught verbally assaulting a female store owner outside of Tulare, California. The man was soon arrested for his "vulgar and profane language," detained, and assigned a trial date. (1) In any other harassment...
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"A Separatist Song": A Newly Discovered Poem about Zoar's Beginnings
In 1833, two years after he arrived in Zoar, Separatist Daniel Ulrich Huber (1768-1840) sat down to pen an account, in the form of a fortyone-stanza poem, about the Separatists' trials in Wurttemberg and their emigration to America. This newly translated...
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Hippie Family Values
Hippie Family Values BEVERLY SECKINGER, DIRECTOR 2017, 68 minutes, color and black and white. Distributed by New Day Films. When the word hippie is mentioned in the same space as rebels, communal living, and drugs, viewers would not be blamed...
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Vol. 37, No. 2, December

From the Editors
The editorial team is pleased to present the fall 2017 issue of Communal Societies. In this issue, readers will find feature articles that deal with historically and geographically disparate communal groups, from Israeli kibbutzim to the Dunites of...
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The Political Economy of Communal Life: Zionist Settlement Policy and Kibbutz Collective Practices, 1920-2010
I. Introduction Kibbutzim in Israel continually pose challenges to the social study of communal life. At the end of World War II, Martin Buber presented the kibbutz as a potential model for the organization of society worldwide, a socialist alternative...
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The Gods of the Dunes: The Diverse Spiritual Practices and Beliefs of the Dunites
Deep in the breezy and ever-changing sand dunes of Oceano, California, a unique collection of people once congregated and lived together in a semi-ascetic existence. They were a group of both men and women, artists and mystics, writers and political...
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The Pacific Coast Chapter of the [NH]CSA: A History with Personal Reflections
[A condensed version of this paper was presented at the Communal Studies Association annual conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, on October 8, 2016.] In the fall of 1985, the National Historic Communal Societies Association held its annual conference...
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A Return to Twin Oaks: October 2016
For my sculptural project Utopian Benches, I visited communal societies in the eastern United States to research, measure, and document the benches they use. Abench is a seat that we share; we sit at the same level. The bench symbolizes the communities'...
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Vol. 37, No. 1, June

From the Editors
The editorial team is pleased to present our first issue of 2017. Themes reflected in this issue range from the influence of centuries-old Moravian spirituality to millennarianism in early Mormon history to how leadership changes and utopian aspirations...
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Lived Utopianism: Everyday Life and Intentional Communities
Introduction: Lived Utopianism and Everyday Life Utopias seek to imagine a good life, and members of intentional communities attempt to live a good life. This article examines what happens, conceptually and experientially, when people try to realize...
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The Influence of Moravian Brethren Religious Thought and Practice on the Development of Camphill Communities
Introduction From the start, the principal aim of the Camphill Movement has been to build communities in which vulnerable children and adults, many with complex needs, can live, learn, and work with others in healthy social relationships, and it...
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Death of a Guru: An Analysis of the Postcharismatic Phase in the Transcendental Meditation Movement
You see, to meditate and transcend... is one way of achieving Cosmic Consciousness. The path of surrender is another way. The path of surrender starts by tuning the mind with the mind of the Master. Tuning the mind with the mind of the Master means:...
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Apocalyptic Anticipations: Mormon Millenarianism in the Early Years
In the earliest published account of Joseph Smith's first visions, it is reported that when Smith was first visited by an angel named Moroni, he was told that "the great preparatory work for the second coming of the Messiah, was speedily to commence;...
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Vol. 36, No. 2, December

"Simple Gifts": The Discovery and Popularity of a Shaker Dance Song
It is remarkable how one simple Shaker song has gone from total obscurity to become one of the most beloved American religious songs today. That song is known by the title of "Simple Gifts" or by its first line, "'Tis the gift to be simple." The process...
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Sustainability in Practice: A Comparative Case Study Analysis of the EcoVillage at Ithaca, Earthaven, and Sirius
Introduction Many people who see the progress of the current environmental movement as insufficient are seeking a new way of living. (1) Ecovillages offer one method for pursuing an alternative, environmental lifestyle. An ecovillage is a "semi-self-sufficient,...
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The Pinery Saints: Mormon Communalism at Black River Falls, Wisconsin
Historians have generally focused on the peak periods of Mormon communalism during the nineteenth century that occurred at two different times: the 1830s in Ohio and Missouri under the leadership of Joseph Smith and the 1870s and 1880s in Utah Territory,...
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Vol. 36, No. 1, June

From the Editors
The editorial team is pleased to present our first issue of 2016. In part, this issue delves into contemporary communities and movements. From Rachel Beck and Alison Ormsby comes an article addressing leadership at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, a contemporary...
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A Case Study Analysis of Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, Missouri
Introduction A rise in consciousness about anthropogenic effects on the natural environment has inspired some people to search for a more sustainable lifestyle. In the face of global environmental crises, a worldwide intentional community movement...
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Camphill at Seventy-Five: Developmental Communalism in Process
Introduction In 2014, the international Camphill movement turned seventy-five years old. From its beginnings in Scotland in 1939, Camphill has grown into a network of more than one hundred schools and villages, located on four continents, where...
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The Emancipation of Shakerism
Editor's Note Philippe Chavance has been studying Shaker architecture for over twenty years. While a professor at University of Kentucky Department of Architecture between 1993 and 1998, he worked extensively analyzing the architecture of Pleasant...
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Vol. 35, No. 2, December

From the Editors
The editorial team is pleased to present our second issue of 2015. The contents of this issue span diverse topics from nineteenth-century Paris to twentieth-century Seattle and also include fresh reflections on familiar groups. We are pleased to include...
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The Seventh Elect Church in Israel: Seattle's "Long-Haired Preachers"
Introduction A cluster of painted frame buildings surrounded by gardens, orchards, and a tall hedge stood out among the small, tidy working-class houses in Seattle's thickly populated Ballard neighborhood. On a slope beside the sidewalk, six-foot-tall...
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Louise Michel, the Paris Commune, and Icaria: Europe's Social Question and the Legacy of French Communalism
Introduction Paris and its revolutionary tradition were a long way from the American Midwest, but female members of the Icarian colony at Corning, Iowa reading newspaper accounts of the amnesty of "Communards" in the 1870s knew quite a lot about...
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Discord in Utopia: Reconciling Perfectionism with Human Nature in the Oneida Community
Introduction Seventeen years prior to the establishment of the Oneida Community in 1848, founder John Humphrey Noyes underwent a religious conversion that forever shaped his understanding of Christianity. "My heart," Noyes wrote, "was fixed on the...
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Shakers and the Landscape of Stewardship
Introduction The American Shakers interpreted the land and its communities of life as one with their own religious precincts. Like American Puritans before them, Shakers were storytellers of the interplay between their religious journeys and the...
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Vol. 35, No. 1, June

From the Editors
This issue marks the launch of a new and reconfigured editorial team, headed by Carol Medlicott as editor. Dr. Medlicott has been serving as one of the associate editors since 2010. Continuing his service as associate editor is Joshua Fleer, and joining...
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Harmonist Demography and Town Planning in New Harmony, Indiana
In April 1814, Georg Rapp, spiritual leader of the Harmony Society, left Harmony, Pennsylvania, with two of the group's members to look for a new town site--one with large tracts of available land, a navigable waterway, and sites for water-driven mills....
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The Kibbutzim's Attitude toward Institutions of Higher Education: From Rejection and Reservation to Integration
"The pursuit after degrees and certificates is foreign to the essence of our lives." --Yaacov Hazan, 1964 (2) "Over recent years we felt that we started lagging, given the level of education around us increased continuously. In order to sustain...
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The Advent of the Disappointed: Why the Millerites Joined the Shakers and Why They Quickly Left
After the Second Great Awakening and the Panic of 1837, many Christians searched for answers about the millennium, the one thousand years either commenced or ended by the Second Coming of Christ. Thousands of Christians in the Northeast and Midwest...
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The Communal Studies Association at Forty: A Personal Retrospective
Organizations do not spring to life by spontaneous generation. They are born of human desire and initiative. The National Historic Communal Societies Association, which was renamed the Communal Studies Association in 1990, is no exception. Forty years...
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Vol. 34, No. 2, December

From the Editors
This issue marks Peter Hoehnle's last as editor of Communal Societies. Starting with the Spring 2015 issue, already well into production, Carol Medlicott will assume the reins as editor. Dr. Medlicott is an associate professor of geography at Northern...
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Virtuous Mother or Wanton Woman? Gendered Rhetoric in Shaker and Anti-Shaker Publications in the Early Republic
When she either wrote or narrated her conversion story in the late 1820s, Shaker sister Anne Mathewson chose to emphasize two main themes: Ann Lee's blameless and virtuous character, which was an "example of chastity and godliness to all womankind,"...
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Davidisches Psalter-Spiel der Kinder Zions
Historical Background The Amana Community is one of the few religious groups of European origin in the United States that is still using the same hymnal which its members brought from Europe in the 1840s, and which by then had already been in use...
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A Conversation with Paolo Lugari, Founder of Las Gaviotas, Colombia
Forty years ago, in a remote location in the Colombian Llanos, a group of "practical idealists" led by Paolo Lugari established an intentional community called Las Gaviotas. Envisioned as a place where the economic and social development dilemmas facing...
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Ananda and the World Brotherhood Communities Movement
"While most of the utopian and religious communes that sprang up in the 1960's have failed, Ananda has flourished." (1) This description of Ananda, written twenty years after its foundation, is even more accurate today, two and a half decades later....
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Vol. 34, No. 1, June

The Coronation of James J. Strang and the Making of Beaver Island Mormonism
On July 8, 1850, on isolated Beaver Island in the middle of northern Lake Michigan, a few hundred Mormons met to crown their leader "King in Zion" in one of only a handful of American coronation ceremonies. The ceremony was elaborate. A royal procession...
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Being the Change: Food, Nonviolence, and Self-Sufficiency in Contemporary Intentional Communities
Be the change, a phrase commonly attributed to Mohandas K. Gandhi, has become ubiquitous for communities and individuals seeking social change. Almost a century ago, he prescribed a paradigm for democracy that bundled concepts such nonviolence, self-sufficiency,...
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German Memories of Icaria: Carl Zwicker's "Four Years' Experience of a Communistic Life" (1878)
The Icarian communal societies in the United States between 1848 and 1898 were an especially distinctive utopian tradition in the nineteenth century. Despite commonalities with a range of their contemporary communalists--both religious and secular--Icarians...
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Mummy Jum: The Shaker-Pilgrim Encounter of 1817-1818
A singular encounter between two of the most noteworthy radical religious sects in American history played out over the summer of 1817 and into the spring of 1818. Led by their shaggy, filthy prophet Isaac Bullard, a group of Canadians and Vermonters...
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Vol. 33, No. 2, December

From the Editors
All of us who work in or follow communal studies delight in encountering a diversity of topics beneath the broad umbrella of our field, and this issue of Communal Societies should rise to that expectation. We are quite pleased that this issue includes...
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The Sholem Community: Reimagining a Jewish Agricultural Community as the First Jewish Resort in the Catskill Mountains
In the last hundred years, much has been written about a group of New York City Jews who left their urban homes in 1837 and established a village in Wawarsing, Ulster County, New York, at the southern tip of the Catskill Mountains. According to prevailing...
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A Silver Light and a Golden Wheel: Shaker Gift Drawing and Sacred Text as a Communal Enterprise
In the midst of the Shaker Era of Manifestations, which technically began in 1837 and lasted for at least twenty years, many events were enacted to manifest the active involvement of divine and heavenly figures in the Shaker life. Believers heard heavenly...
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The "Golden Wheel"
[Right side of wheel] Holy Mount Jan. 30th 1844 first order Chh.. The words of divine Wisdom that are written within & upon the ever turning and bright Golden Wheel of Eternal power & Truth which Wisdom Herself holds in Her right hand...
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A Community of Bruderhof Leavers: Reflections on the KIT/hummer Process
Background on the Authors Ruth Baer Lambach and J. Timothy Johnson first met as teenagers in North Dakota in late 1955, during the first concerted efforts by the Bruderhof, which had just established its first North American community the year before,...
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Vol. 33, No. 1, June

Forerunner of Liberation Theology: The Oneida Community's Perfectionist Vision in Practice
Liberation theology emerged in the wake of the reforms initiated by Pope John XXIII in the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). Moving well beyond the Council's original purpose of making the Roman Catholic Church more open and responsive to the modern...
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"Let Down Your Buckets": Declension and the Debate on Shaker Marginality
The post--Civil War era in Shaker history is often viewed as one of the quiet declension of a society that had always existed on the perimeters of America. However, the years following the Civil War were an era of struggle between two factions within...
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The Life and Legacy of Count Leon: The Man Who Cleft the Harmonie
Today, few people have heard of Count Leon (1788-1834). During his lifetime, however, his exploits sparked countless news articles and evoked animated conversation on two continents. Only in America was he known as Count Leon; Europeans called him...
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