A documentary observing peripheral communities in the U.S., and how they're models for a more peaceful, durable society.
“The United Nations is telling us, super clearly, we have to cut carbon footprints by 2050 by 80%. And everybody is saying ‘Oh no, it can't be done,’ ‘it's impossible!’ 'we can't live the lifestyle we need' ‘we’ll never make it!’. We’re there. We’re already 80% below the mainstream... and the key is this very radical notion that came up in kindergarten... called sharing.”
-Paxus Calta, Twin Oaks Community (from “Episode 1: Family Business”)
In a culture of alienation, intentional communities are pointing the way toward a more healthy, cohesive, and durable society. Three of us working as The Last Volunteer, a film production cooperative, are producing a documentary film series featuring ecovillages, agricultural cooperatives and other such self-organized residential forms in the United States. We have entered the post-production phase for the current installment of the project and seek funds for its completion and dissemination.
Our goal is to reveal through film the kinds of intentional communities that are out there working, inspire others to experiment and enact peaceful and resilient community practices, and bring this growing trend on the periphery of American life into mainstream consciousness.
Intentional communities exhibit tremendous resilience and hope. While filming for this project, we've seen the beautiful, transformative potential that cooperation and communal support can produce. We’ve seen the positive effects on our environment, our political and economic systems, and the ways that people can treat one another. Many intentional communities are based on nonviolence, cooperation, and egalitarianism, making them vivid, everyday examples of how to work towards a more peaceful society.
For example, Sandhill Farm, a community in northeast Missouri that we visited this summer, grows over 90 percent of their own food and raises their own livestock, removing themselves from the destructive chain of industrial agriculture. Sandhill is also an egalitarian community that has chosen to move beyond the inequality and violence of hierarchical business structures and gendered relations.
We began filming for this project two summers ago and produced a thirty minute pilot episode titled Family Business, featuring Twin Oaks, a one-hundred-member income-sharing community in rural Virginia. Based on the promise of this pilot, we received a Projects for Peace grant from the Davis Foundation, which enabled us to gather footage for the first feature length episode of our "Finding Community" series titled The Rhythm of Rutledge, which will feature three communities in Rutledge, a small town in northeastern Missouri. These communities, all within biking distance of each other, consist of Sandhill Farm, an incoming-sharing agricultural cooperative, Dancing Rabbit, a thriving ecovillage focused on renewable energy, and Red Earth Farms, a young community of homesteads. Our goal is to produce six total episodes on intentional communities across the United States, from agrarian cooperatives to artist collectives, in cities as well as the country. We cannot reach this goal without your help.
We've purposely set our goal low at $8,000 as the very minimum we need to finish the second film -- which means we are hoping to raise more than our set goal. Your donation will go towards updating components of our editing equipment, sound mastering of the final cut, our (very modest!) living expenses while we edit, and promotional costs like website design, poster and flyer printing, and film festival entry fees. We also intend to begin pre-production for the next installment of Finding Community, so your donation will contribute to our travel expenses to our next location and the purchase of several new pieces of equipment, like an additional microphone and a camera lens.
We are reaching out to you all so that we can continue sharing this project that we are so dedicated to and passionate about. We really appreciate your financial support. But more than that, stay in touch with us! Check out our website and sign up for our newsletter, or send us an email, share this project with others whether or not you think they would be interested. This project has been from the very beginning a collaborative one, and we hope to continue that collaboration with the communities we visit, and also with the community we are building as we meet so many great people who are as inspired as we are about this project.
The production of a documentary requires extensive planning, traveling, time, and, though we wish it were not so, unavoidable expenses. We're only a crew of three and we do just about everything ourselves, from emailing and calling the communities we're interested in documenting, to designing our posters and flyers, and, of course, shooting and editing the film itself. We strive to spend as little as possible, but there are certain costs that we cannot work around. If you choose to donate (which we hope you do!), your contribution will go towards the sound mastering of the final film, an important process that prepares the documentary for theatrical screening and that none of us are qualified to perform. Your contribution will also go towards promotional costs, like the printing of flyers, brochures, and posters, which we're producing to help spread the word about our project and get our work seen by as many people as possible. We plan to submit our film to a number of film festivals, so your contribution will also go towards their entry fees. The many hours of video footage we recorded also takes up an incredible amount of hard drive space and requires substantial computing muscle, so your donation will help us purchase more hard drive and RAM space for our editing computers. For work on our next film, which will feature another intentional community in the United States (we have several that we're deciding between), we hope to purchase a new microphone and camera lens, to replace equipment that we were generously loaned by a friend last summer. This and travel expenses make up the bulk of our budget for our next feature that we hope our Kickstarter funds can cover.
We are not doing this project to personally profit and every dollar that is contributed will be put towards the production and promotion of our project. We greatly appreciate any and all contributions, whether $1 or $1000. And if you can't donate, spread the word! Thank you for your support.
According to the Fellowship of Intentional Communities,
"An "intentional community" is a group of people who have chosen to live together with a common purpose, working cooperatively to create a lifestyle that reflects their shared core values. The people may live together on a piece of rural land, in a suburban home, or in an urban neighborhood, and they may share a single residence or live in a cluster of dwellings.
This definition spans a wide variety of groups, including (but not limited to) communes, ecovillages, student cooperatives, land co-ops, cohousing groups, monasteries and ashrams, kibbutzim, and farming collectives. Although quite diverse in philosophy and lifestyle, each of these groups places a high priority on fostering a sense of community--a feeling of belonging and mutual support that is increasingly hard to find in mainstream Western society."
We think this is a good definition.
As much as we would like to, the final destination of this film and the series has yet to be determined. Since we are looking at PBS and other possible distribution methods, we want to play it safe with regards to distribution and copyright legalities and can't yet promise a DVD or a digital download. While we figure this out, we will be hosting screenings in different locations across the country in addition to (we hope) screenings at film festivals around the world. We will definitely keep you posted.