Since living for 12 years on America’s (might as well say “the world’s”) largest hippie commune, I’ve been torn repeatedly about how to frame the experience with new friends, colleagues, clients and employers.

On the positive side, I learned an incredible amount about sociology, appropriate technology, collaboration, low tech living and practical craftwork – water system design, home construction, mechanical repair, farming, ham radio, home birthing…the list goes on. More importantly I established deep, trusting relationships during the 70s that still have meaning and value today.

On the negative side, it has remained a quizical item on my resume that even otherwise progressive people often view with some suspicion, as if I must have a screw loose somewhere to have done such a thing. Would I, for example, be psychologically able to help them make a profit?

I finally resolved that it was most definitely a net positive experience that has since enhanced my life and my ability to advise others on the most important aspects of social relationship in both profit-making and non-profit situations. For without the commitment and agreement we had on that intentional community, we would not have lasted long enough to complete the many projects that we began and aspired to complete in the early days. Organizations and businesses can only wish their constituents would show such loyalty and commitment. It was a remarkable social experiment that continues to offer valuable rewards, both to me and to the people I work for.

One of my current fields of interest where that experience holds special relevance is the future of communities in an era of radical change in economy and climate. By adopting local sharing practices, people can save energy, discover economies of scale, create barter economies and save money while simultaneously building local social safety nets and sustainable resources. But last week I was amazed to discover a web site called, directly enough, Wanna Start a Commune?

Unlike my commune – The Farm – these folks don’t expect people to jump in with both feet and their clothes on (or off, as the case may be). They don’t suggest that neighbors go collective and move to the virgin forest. Instead, they offer some of the more logical baby steps that urban neighborhoods can take to build trust through teamwork. They are also working through a Facebook page that currently has over 300 fans.

Using a few simple tools you can start sharing with your neighbors, friends or co-workers today. You’ll save time and money, connect more deeply with those around you, and do right by the planet. Download our pamphlet ‘Tools for Commune Starters‘ with everything you need to get started, including:

– ‘Getting Started’ Checklist
– ‘What’s in a Commune?’ Resource-sharing Guide
– Potluck & Workshop Planning Tools
– Simple Organizational Documents
– Technology Tips to help you manage and grow your commune