Integral Communities Network______________________

The intention to design an Integral Community Network (ICON) has an academic foundation in the form of a Postgraduate Thesis for the MSc Environmental Technology at Imperial College London and weblog where the whole survey responses are published.

Integral Design

Intentional communities are small villages formed by individuals that have common goals such as Sustainable Living. The Fellowship for Intentional Communities has more than 1,700 organizations affiliated. These communities are social experiments that offer alternative models of living. Successful models, or parts of them, can be reapplied into the larger society. Ken Wilber’s integral model, AQAL, was used to design a survey about intentional communities. The hypothesis of this work suggests that sustainability initiatives that include both objective (i.e. scientific) and subjective dimensions (e.g. values) will have better measurable results that those that only consider objective variables. The survey helped to identify 20 important forces that either thwart or support the development of communities. This information was used to build an integral kit of tools, such as value mapping or governance systems, that support the development of communities in an integral way.

This academic research was done by Juan Pablo Rico and supervised by Zen Makuch and Fernanda Ibarra during the months of March through September 2007.


Sample answers from the Integral Community Survey


Among the key stakeholders of this project (i.e. community members)… What are the most important aspects of their “Inner Individual” that seem to support the ultimate success of the community?

The key success factor for the Inner Individual quadrant is diversity. Our community has individuals with a wide range of inner sense and strengths. Some are visionaries, others detail people, other emotional people, others intellectuals, others humorous, those who want risk, and those who guard against too much risk, etc. From what we have read, and from our own experience, the key thing is to have the variety of strengths. From what we have read, one of the largest contributors to community failure, is, for example, too many idealistic visionaries, with not enough detail process people. The second success factor is that individuals are willing to and in the process of doing inner work and being self-reflective. Thus the inner aspects of the project, our fears, our embarrassments, our prejudices, are up for inspection and change in the communal context and not taken as a given.

What are the most important aspects of their “Inner Collective” that seem to thwart, or work against, the ultimate success of the community?

Loneliness. States, Structures, Shadows, the fact that none of us inhabit exactly the same world. Each of us phasing, alternately trying too hard or not hard enough to break through existential aloneness into a "We-Space" that satisfies. Acting as if it's still there even after it fades. The way we fall in love with the images we project and the way that keeps dragging down the group samadhi.

According to your experience What are the most important aspects in the “outer collective” quadrant that seem to support the ultimate success of a community?

-having many of the basic needs taken care of; for instance, having a shared dining area with core kitchen staff to provide for everyone’s food needs frees up a great deal of time and energy that would normally be spent shopping for and preparing their own food.

-a combination of hierarchical and bottom-up elements seems essential. There needs to be a hierarchy of decision-making, where those with the most experience and expertise in a given area are allowed to hold the greatest influence over the conduct of that area of activity. At the same time, there needs to be a genuine invitation and forum for anyone at any level of the hierarchy in any area to provide input and make sure they are heard.


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Human beings, by nature, are Utopian. We dream and we hope, and since the dawn of civilization, we have conjured notions of an ideal and perfect existence. From the bucolic realms of the Garden of Eden to Plato’s republic of philosopher kings, from the island paradise of Thomas More’s Utopia to the libertarian collectives of the nineteenth century America, to the counterculture communes of the 1960’s, the way in which utopia has been envisioned have changed dramatically over time. But whatever forms they have taken, utopian ideals have helped drive forward an unfolding process of reinvention, a process whereby humankind has sought, through vision and experimentation, a new and better life. Indeed, utopian visions, and the social experiments they inspired, are a product of our most freely creative faculty, the human imagination. They are an expression of the universal impulse to create the new –to reshape culture and even consciousness itself.
Jessica Roemischer.
WIE,The Utopian Propensity.