As so-called intentional communities proliferate across the country, a subset of Americans is discovering the value of opting out of contemporary society.
East Wind is what its 72 residents call an intentional community, a modern descendant of the utopian colonies and communes of centuries past where individuals share everything from meals, chores and living space to work, income, domestic responsibilities and the burden of self-governance. The term intentional community dates to the late 1940s, when the Inter-Community Exchange — an organization formed in Yellow Springs, Ohio, in the wake of World War II to help promote peaceful, cooperative living arrangements (in the hope of eradicating war altogether) — changed its name to the Fellowship of Intentional Communities; the founders felt the new title better conveyed the deliberateness with which these groups were assembling. The members of East Wind, for example, range in age from infancy to 76: Some have lived here for more than three decades, but around half of the population is part of a new wave, people in their late 20s and early 30s who joined in the last four years. These newer residents moved to East Wind to wean themselves off fossil fuels, grow their own food, have a greater say in how their society is run and live in less precarious financial circumstances.