In recent weeks, as the seasons turn from hot to cool, dry to wet, and the leaves both fade and explode into flaming Fall glory, my housemates and I spend more time indoors confronting each other instead of the Virginia wilderness.
Homesteading in the context of intentional community brings plenty of its own tangible, visceral adventures. Chasing neighborhood dogs away from our Muscovies, building composting toilets from scrap pallets, dumpster diving, and re-insulating an entire story of the house are easy and fun activities, compared to the ooey-gooey interpersonal dynamics that are the unspoken work of every intentional community.
Relationships are hard, and crafting healthy relationships is an art form. We have declared in word and deed that we are committed, not only to Appalachia and our dreams of living off grid, but also to consensus decision making, non-violent communication, friendship, honesty and accountability.
At the advent of the Apple-achian Project, we each took personality and conflict style tests, and agreed to certain procedures when inevitable dilemmas arise. This however, has not prevented miscommunication, misappropriation of tasks, budgeting hassles and an abundance of passive aggressive post-it notes. I believe this is the kind of work it takes to foment long-term happiness. According to the Myers-Briggs personality test, we are all "Feelers." However we are all across the board with regards to conflict and communication styles, and love languages.
It is our diversity that is both our greatest strength and weakness. Sharing common goals, hippie proclivities, unbridled creativity, and a sense of the weird bonds us. Each person brings their own stories, and life-history, not to mention preferences ranging from mustard versus ketchup to sexuality.
This is the kind of adventuring I subscribe to long term. We may get into heated debates over leftovers, tree species, and household pets, yet through the discomfort we are also growing in intimacy and resiliency. The scariest part of community in the boonies is not the weather, the death of loved animals, manual labor, nor even tackling seemingly impossible infrastructure obstacles, but confronting yourself.
And I can't think of a better road to self-improvement than one paved with intentions and friendship.
When dealing with the Myers-Briggs types, navigating Perceiving versus Judging types has been our greatest difficulty. The tension between spontaneity and discipline makes for some tasty planning meetings. With regards to the Enneagram, and conflict styles- when the mood is upbeat, there is little to take note of. In trying times, however, we differ greatly. I retreat from conflict and defer to shame and shyness, while others may lean towards anger, fear, or a more outright expression of emotion. Our love languages are fun to notice in their variety- from physical touch to quality time, and have only been a source of joy.
While each person has to figure out for themselves what they want or need in a living and/or workspace, some useful tools the Apple-achian Project has made use of include:
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