Life in the city can be isolating. Common spaces are no longer common: economic restructuring that began in the 1970s has converted much of what were once public gathering spaces into private areas geared more towards shopping than open interaction. This is part of a global trend of turning shared land, resources, and experiences into commodities, diminishing people’s sense that this world of ours is shared, not privately owned.
This project is about people who are experimenting with alternatives to the isolating individualism of modern cities. It is the culmination of two years of photography, conversations, and time spent with four communal houses–AKA “intentional communities”–in South Minneapolis. These communities consist of people who come together to live cooperatively with others who share their values in order to better uphold those values. They’re guided by the belief that the best way to create a better world is with and for others, so they sacrifice some autonomy to the collective process of remaking and reimagining their lives.
Like the communities themselves, this project was born out of an attempt to figure out how to live in a way that supports my values. This puzzle has no easy answers. While it may be tempting to romanticize communal living, these spaces can breed their own form of individualism, just as isolated from the rest of the city as any private residence and in some cases, even more so. Intentional communities may thus be equal parts culture and counter-culture even as they seek to creatively reimagine both.