The community here does have a strong shared belief in innate human goodness, this is what binds us together as a community. We see one another’s inherent goodness and worth, we celebrate it, we reject the cruelty and passivity of the world we all left behind, and we pose no threat to anybody.
The minute I begin to tell anyone that I live in a chosen community with a chosen familial group and we share common beliefs about the world around us, they begin to question my safety and sanity. I know it sounds like a cult. I’ve studied all of the cults, all of the cult leaders, all of the different world religions. I understand the difference between cult and religion just as I recognize the difference between community and cult.
We have a weekly mutual worship session – we’re split into groups and discuss our lives with a therapeutic sense. The purpose of these groups is to have friends and neighbors validate our concerns that we would be afraid to even voice in a less evolved group. It is also a way to heighten the sense of community and dependency of the community members. It is important to us to remember that people need us as much as we need people. For this reason, it is very uncommon that someone leaves the group.
We get the occasional tourists in town on the wine trip who don’t feel comfortable visiting or paying for goods at what they consider a cult. Once anyone is convinced you’re in a cult, anything you say sounds to them like gaslight scripted jargon. But most are more than happy to throw their money at us!
This hipster homemade trend works very much in our favor.
Because our entire community exists, in large part, on a bartering and trading system it can be hard to make purchases in the real world. I scoff at the notion of buying a $12 bottle of shampoo because $12 sounds like so much money to me and why wouldn’t I just make my own shampoo and how long will it last me anyway and how often is it responsible to was my hair etc etc etc. Perhaps one reason I left the city to live in a small community is the overwhelming consistency of too many choices – all of them expensive.
So beyond buying from my friends and neighbors, I try to do as little shopping as possible. I don’t shop online, I don’t even have internet at the house. I just have a limited amount of cellular data each month.
A neighbor and I leave the community once a month on what we call a “dry get.” It’s basically just a journey to get dry goods for community share night. This is the task to which we were assigned by the CL (Community Leader) and we take it very seriously.
We stock up on paper goods (toilet paper, paper towels, etc), dried edible goods (beans, flour, etc) and any needs that have been identified by CL. We don’t question the task or the list of items and then we leave them at CL’s so that they may be sorted and rationed.
I live in a small town, we don’t have local market, let alone a Whole Foods, in large part because so many of the individuals and families living in this community are more self-sufficient than in more densely populated areas.
Most of the families out here have farmland and produce necessities – during the once-weekly farm swap, we bring what we have in surplus and tradesies. Sure, sometimes we’re all just trading barely-different ears of corn back and forth, but there are specialty items at different forms that I wait for excitedly all year!
Because I maintain a small shea tree grove, a large herb garden, and several fruit trees I sell mostly soaps, lotions and perfumes that I make at home. Besides it being a nice income, it’s also a really calming hobby. I love listening to feedback from buyers and improving existing products or learning to make new ones.
I host one night a month, whoever wants to come, and learn whatever it is I’m working on – everything brings their own farm-sharables so we usually have a really nice spread of cheese, vegetables, fruit, fresh-baked breads, savory pastries, and local wine to feat upon while straining tofu or stirring essential oils into boiling shea oil.
Any of the local vendors – there’s a pumpkin patch, an apple orchard, and a petting zoo catering to tourists on our little wine country tour. I sell my goods there and see pretty amazing profits. Tourists love to buy anything in a mason jar.