History 12 Reading Guide

Conclusion, or How to Design a Utopian Community

  • Graham Meltzer, "Cohousing:  Linking Community and Sustainability," Communal Societies 19 (1999), 85-100.  (e-reserve)
  • Jack Crittenden, "Veneration of Community," Communal Societies 9 (1989), 105-122.  (e-reserve)

Further reading:

  • Heather Sullivan-Catlin, "'A Good Borderland':  Cohousing Communities and Social Change," Communal Societies 24 (2004), 119-135.
  • Jon Wagner, "Success in Intentional Communities: The Problem of Evaluation," Communal Societies 5 (1985), 89-100.  (e-reserve)


Note:  Use these readings to review what we have learned and to consider the prognosis for the future of communal experiments in America.

  • What have we learned about the role of utopia?  How was it envisioned and implemented by founders and leaders?  How did utopias gather and retain followers?  How did communal societies interact with the society beyond the community?
  • How have utopian ventures evolved from the seventeenth century to the present?  What continuities do we find?  What changes have occurred—in vision, in method/model, in size, etc.?
  • What is cohousing?
  • While it is an intentional community, in what ways is it utopian?  Does developmental communalism better describe this kind of communal venture?
  • Is it a more sustainable form of community because it is also connected to mainstream society, yet it supports values beyond that society?
  • Is sustainability, as a value a) particularly compatible with communitarianism, and b) a more enduring bond than labor because it is voluntary rather than imposed?
  • Does cohousing address some of the contemporary dilemmas of community that Crittenden poses?  Where does it fit on a continuum from total community to partial community?