Commune Living: The Bruderhof

The Bruderhof commune living style is based on Christian faith, the members earn a living building children's toys and share all property on the commune.

| November/December 1971


Children and their teacher pick flowers at the entrance to the New Meadow Run community of the Bruderhof (once known as the Society of Brothers).

Photo by Andrew Schneider

Folks keep asking us if we know of a commune that has endured for any length of time ... and we keep answering that the only communes which seem to conquer time are those organized around a very strong and dynamic leader or a heavy religious trip. The Group (reported on in MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 10) is an example of the first ... and here's a sample of the second.   

The guys in the Hawaiian shirts who come to rubberneck the tourist spots on Pennsylvania's Route 40 usually go right on by the Bruderhof toy-making commune at New Meadow Run. Maybe that's because nobody stands outside hawking souvenir salt shakers and painted porcelain plates with pictures of George Washington on them.

But the tourist profiteers and the national battlefields really have nothing on the Bruderhof's style of commune living ... because behind their humble sign on Route 40, the brothers are quietly proving that a well-operated commune can go just about as far as its members want to take it. Through determination and years of hard work, the brothers have created a burgeoning toy business that today — along with a publishing enterprise — makes the commune completely self-sufficient.

Nor does the success of the New Meadow Run community mark the upper limit of the brothers' accomplishment. The Bruderhof also collectively owns two other prosperous settlements at Rifton, N.Y. and Norfolk, Conn. At all three communes, the brothers practice what they believe to be the most harmonious mode of existence possible to man.

"What we want to demonstrate," one of the brothers told us as we walked through the 140 sprawling acres at New Meadow Run, "is that people can live together in real unity. That's the primary need in life today. It's our feeling that people can be united without giving up their conscience. Man was made to live the way we're living."

At times in its history, though, it appeared that the brothers would not be permitted to live in this or any other way.

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