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Creating Community Wherever You Are: Deepening Our Connections and Feelings of Belonging in a Fast-Paced World

Creating Community Wherever You Are: Deepening Our Connections and Feelings of Belonging in a Fast-Paced World

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Creating Community Wherever You Are: Deepening Our Connections and Feelings of Belonging in a Fast-Paced World

148 pages
2 heures
Nov 13, 2018


How often do you have your neighbors over for dinner? How do you define your community? Where do you feel the most connected in your life?

In a world increasingly isolated and separate, community is still readily available—we just have to look around and make the effort. In Creating Community Wherever You Are, Deanna Jaya Nakosteen opens our eyes to what’s possible. When we create community, we create relationships and meaningful connections. When we live our lives with connection and meaning, we broaden our capacity for love.

Written with warmth and wisdom from 30-plus years of living in an intentional community, Creating Community Wherever You Are issues an invitation to all of us, no matter where we live, to deepen our connections to one another, the world, and ourselves.   

Nov 13, 2018

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Creating Community Wherever You Are - Deanna Jaya Nakosteen


In a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains is a five-acre plot of land that is home to an intentional community. On Google Maps, it appears as mostly trees, with an opening at one end allowing the abundant greens in the garden to absorb the sun. Approximately two hundred of the trees on this land bear various kinds of fruit: apricots, plums, apples.

At the end of the driveway sits a large house, in which there are four bedrooms, a large living area, and a sizeable kitchen with another common room beside it. A beautiful, colorful Persian rug covers the floor. There is vibrant art on the walls and bright batik fabrics drape on the sofas. There is a piano in the common room and yoga mats tucked in one corner.

The large kitchen is the hub of the community where someone can be found preparing food most any time of the day. A long communal table fills the center of the long room, with benches on either side. Well-used wooden countertops run around the perimeter of the room. A whiteboard is on the wall next to the pantry, holding messages between community members: updates, notes, announcements, requests. On the shelves in the pantry there are jars of dried herbs for teas, dried beans, grains, and other staples. Stepping into the kitchen, one receives warm greetings and hugs. In the evenings, the members take turns cooking dinner for everyone. An abundance of food comes from the local farmer’s market and health food store each week.

Throughout the property, there are all sorts of structures hidden here and there among the trees, some of which are creative and inspired dwellings for community members. There is an earth dome, a geodesic dome, a yurt, six cabins, three motor homes, and a converted school bus that looks like a work of art while being a cozy home. To support the activities of the community there are other buildings: a tool workshop, a laundry, a bathhouse, and a stage. In front of the stage is a bench made out of cob, forming a semi-circle around the fire pit.

At any given time, there are on average 20 adults, across a wide range of ages, and three children residing on the property. The members often express gratitude to be living this unique life style of working together and playing together. Even though sometimes the energy is intense, it is very rewarding. Changes are always happening, and members strive to create an even better way of living and communicating on a daily basis. The feeling is like that of being supported by a large family—a large, expansive, connected, caring, and loving family.

When I was a child, growing up in Nebraska, I could never have conceived of a place like this. Even as an adult, alone in Southern California in my early thirties, I had no idea this was possible. I knew I wanted to be connected. I knew I longed for support. I just didn’t know where to find it. I was living what was the norm at the time, first, with my husband, then, later, on my own, in a single-family dwelling, and had yet to awaken to what was possible. I couldn’t see, yet, that there are many different ways to live our lives and that sharing resources with others and living in a community full time was a possibility that existed.

It’s all too easy to get caught up in what is, but when we do this, we end up missing out on seeing what’s possible.

I have two great loves in this life: children and community. What connects these for me is the constant presence of possibility; the constant presence of wonder. Just watch a three year old wander through a park. Her eyes light up with such curiosity and astonishment; she wants to touch or connect with everything on her path. A five-minute walk turns into a half-hour meander—the child smelling this flower, touching that patch of grass, asking about the bird in the tree, laying down on the splash pad, giggling as she gets drenched. Children have their eyes open for what’s possible in a way that we tend to ignore as we age.

In the same sense, community has always held a sense of possibility for me. While community invariably takes on a variety of shapes and sizes, it is always dynamic and expansive. Community is what connects us, and any time humans interact in relationships, we’re heading into unchartered territories. Community can be defined singularly, as in the intentional community I live in, or much more broadly to include your neighbors in your apartment building, the people you work with, or your kids’ soccer team.

By consciously living as part of a community, I’m constantly learning. I’m constantly surrounded by incredible people, deep sharing, evolving children, and all within the harmonious environment we have all created. I live with people who share my values, who revel in the connection we have, who are willing to support and be supported; truly, we’re an extended family. We are all on a journey to learn more about ourselves. I have grown in ways I never could have foreseen back in Nebraska. I have an expansive feeling of connection. I find myself often experiencing situations that remind me I’m supported and in harmony with life. Living in a community where we give each other assistance and love has led me to feel an even deeper understanding of life’s mysteries. All because I was open to possibility.

This is my invitation to you. I felt moved to write this book as a way of introducing you to what’s possible; specifically, what’s possible in terms of how we create community and use this to feel a deeper connection with one another. How we live in our society can take so many different forms than what we’ve been taught! What may work for some people may not work for others. In today’s world, especially, we’re seeing higher numbers of lonely, disconnected people. The prevalence of depression and anxiety, and the number of people taking medications for these, speaks to what’s missing for so many when it comes to emotional and social support. For many people, interaction with their neighbors is limited. Often, a person might come home and park directly in their garage, which means they are then in their home without once encountering the neighbors. If they’re single, they may eat dinner alone, watch television, go to bed, and repeat.

While the family is still commonly the basis of community for many people, for others it’s not such a strong place of support. Where do people turn when they have no community? Where do people turn when the family lets them down? Where do people find feelings of connection or support? What possibilities exist to create community, regardless of your situation or location?

I wrote this book as a way of revealing new ways to think about your experience of community with hopes of sparking the sense of possibility within. We’re surrounded by community, but how often do we really recognize it? Our workplaces, our neighborhoods, our schools, our sports teams are all mini-communities we form, but are we recognizing what possibilities for connection exist within these? Are we really engaged with the communities that already exist around us?

Stepping into a new way of living and interacting with all the humans around us requires us to step into what’s possible and be ready to share ourselves as we do. By creating community wherever you are, you’re offering to yourself and your neighbors a deeper experience of what it means to connect to each other. A deeper experience of what it means to live, work, and play together. A deeper experience of what it means to support one another. In the simplest expression, community is formed around shared values. I invite you to recognize the values you share with others around you and use these as a touchstone to start creating community wherever you are.

I can say with certainty that living in intentional community for 30-plus years has transformed my life in powerful ways. My wish for you is that you uncover what’s possible when you start creating community, wherever you are.


Tear Down the Fences

"[Tribal life] worked for people the way nests worked for birds, the way webs work for spiders, the way burrows work for moles … That doesn’t make it livable,

it makes it viable."

— Alexa Clay

First and foremost, this is a book about possibility. My life experience has led me to spend over thirty years in an intentional community, for which I’m very grateful. As such, it’s also the lens through which I write, the filter through which I offer solutions. All of the things I love about living in intentional community are available to each and every one of you reading this; you need not go out and start your own intentional community to explore the questions and action steps I offer in later chapters. I strived to turn my community experience into one that anyone can apply to their lives. It begins with seeing what’s possible.

I have known throughout my life that community is natural, and my life experiences in and around community have set me on a path that has kept me more aligned with the natural flow of life. There is a great passage in an essay called Utopia, Inc by Alexa Clay that struck me when I first read it; in the passage, Ms. Clay shares that our DNA is wired for tribal living. Indeed, research from other anthropologists has found that human nature is best suited to small, caring groups. This speaks to the idea that living in community has played a significant role throughout our evolution. If so, where did we as a modern society go off-track? How did we end up here, where the majority of families live as single families in one large home and people are living alone in greater numbers than ever before?

Community is, without a doubt, innate to human nature. Human kind has lived a tribal lifestyle for millions of years, and even lived in multi-family dwellings up until the early eighteenth century. Still with the rise of modern society and single-family detached housing becoming available, it’s as if we’re evolving away from community—and the consequences of this have become much more noticeable.

The earliest humans did what comes naturally, which was live in small groups or tribes. They would not have survived without a tribal family. They depended on each other for safety and to gather food. To its members, the welfare of each tribe was more important than anything else. The feeling of community

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