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From Burning Man to Intentional Community

By UPLIFT on Saturday October 17th, 2015

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A Life Beyond Burning Man

Graduating from Burning Man to a 9 acre, 5-family community

We started off as veteran Burning Man friends and we ended up as neighbors, chosen family members, business partners, co-parents and partners in the process of life. Little did we know that there was a grand design at work when years before, many of us came together to do a deep dive into a profound spiritual work. With the aid of a trusted guide and teacher, we witnessed each other shed layers of fear, persona and ego. It was gritty, gut wrenching, and sometimes, very entertaining.

Community coming together to celebrate!Community coming together to celebrate

Guided by faith and trust

Through this process, we were willing to let go of the comfortable, yet limiting, disconnected lives we were living and were able to get honest about our lives and where we really wanted to be living: in a communal village where we could raise humans into integral beings. Many of us held the vision of community in various iterations for quite some time and had organized meetings and facilitated discussions around how this could actually come about in a place as independent and narcissistic as Southern California.

What we learned is that it wasn’t enough to gather people against something like “The Man” or “Capitalism”. We had to unite for higher values we believed in, while being guided by heart based wisdom, service, integrity, unconditional love, collaboration, and childlike play. It wasn’t even enough to agree on a set of values; we came together because we were already in the process of living those values.

From there, it was almost as if we were chosen by invisible forces to cultivate ourselves, our children, our relationships, and the earth. We had little to no blueprint of how to go about this behemoth task, so we called upon our collective skill set to find our way in the dark, guided mostly by faith and trust.

The Nest, a handmade structure for sacred fires and circles‘The Nest’ – a handmade structure for sacred fires and circles

A diversity of skills

Our village was born with a diverse group with backgrounds in construction, education, permaculture, property management, real estate, performance art, furniture design, acupuncture, psychology and the armed forces. It involved long meetings that asked us to deepen our frustration tolerance, find levity and ultimately, chose love.

I can see now why few communities actually make it, for a functioning village involves incredible amounts of emotional intelligence, personal awareness, maturity, and a profound willingness to evolve. Unlike a quaint suburban existence, where habits and peccadillos can be scrupulously concealed, there is no hiding amidst the reflection of 10 people who are equally aware and committed to growth.

And of course, we love to have some fiery fun!And of course, we love to have some fiery fun!

Learning to work together

In the past four and a half years, we have learned many lessons about the stickiness of power distribution, the tribulations of consensus-based decision making, the downsides of overly ambitious plans and projects, the importance of personal integrity and boundaries, the necessity of non-violent, heart based communication, the beauty of sharing meals, the frustration (and awesomeness) of sharing resources, the benefit of regular emotional clearings, the challenge of keeping communal kitchens clean and perhaps most importantly, the importance of doing our own personal work to remove the barriers to our own connections with truth.

The community has developed gardens, composting, bees & a food forestThe community has developed gardens, composting, bees & a food forest

Saving the world, one community at a time

Though at times, I reflect on the massive amount of energy that has gone into these 9 acres we call home and I think about what I could be doing with all that life force. I could be saving the rainforests, educating the world’s children, aiding the reduction of the global carbon imprint, or healing the masses.

Then I realize, that’s exactly what we are doing in our own backyard, and if we can practice integrity from the inside out at home, then maybe our practice can inspire others to cultivate their own version of family in their own humble, yet deeply meaningful way.

No matter where you are or where you come from, we all need to feel connected to a sense of belonging, a sense of family. It takes many hands and hearts to raise beings into caring global citizens!


Words by Jessica Plancich Shinners, Co-founder of Emerald Village Organization
Originally appeared on NuMundo



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  • tanya

    This is awesome! (: it sure has inspired me

  • Patti Siracusa Moebius

    Ever since I was young, I wanted to live in a commune. I read Thorough in my teens and thought, “this could work”. That was before the internet and now that I’m older, I’ve read about all the different communities in the US. How I wish I would have found one in my earlier days. Rock on brothers and sisters!

    • BlackKnight360

      You took the words right out of my mouth. I have dreamed of this most of my life. I would give almost anything to be a part of something like this.

      • Polly-jaiyne O’Marlley (modera


    • Polly-jaiyne O’Marlley (modera

      Respect my friend of a distant family!

  • pranic Roger

    it is in community that we peel away the masks of who we think we are and reveal the true nature of how others see us, in our strengths and weaknesses, in our qualities and our shortcomings. We learn the nature of mind, of heart, and of spirit, using clarity, compassion, and will to accomplish what need to be done but collaboratively, not narcisisticly. congratulations on your forest food venture; although your community appears to be made up of twenty somethings, I’m wondering if you couldn’t expand it to include some seniors to provide their wisdom and experience to your community. I appreciate that many seniors lack the flexibility in beliefs, values, and acceptance that young people can express, however, wisdom comes with age and experience. I’m confident you will find like-spirited individuals/seniors who can also contribute physically to your enterprise/community.

    • Mutant Garage

      Yes, I hope you have reached out to other intentional communities like Thefarm.org, they have learned much about keeping a community functioning for the long haul.

      • Matt

        That URL is not working.. Do you know one that does?

        • Polly-jaiyne O’Marlley (modera

          Your personal URL adress is your subconscious aptitude.

          • John

            Are you speaking of my url or “your” as in general…

          • John

            If you think I was being sarcastic to Mutant Garage I wasn’t. Your personal compassion aptitude might need to be addressed. Plus that was a year ago and Im never on this.. Only saw your reply by email notification.

          • John

            Keep the douchebag comments to yourself next time.

      • Polly-jaiyne O’Marlley (modera

        Long The long haul is whats always been.

    • Polly-jaiyne O’Marlley (modera

      Great Advice, I’m in experienced belief that every word speaks of good sense! I wish you the very best of all thats yet to be in 2017 and Thank you for been a like minded likewise its atmosphericly pleasing.

  • Robert Bennie

    Well well well. This is how 21st century hippies look, live,
    love, laugh and grow. This feels good and their ‘classroom’
    is amply stocked with energetic teachers and students AKA
    each other. Dance on!

    • Polly-jaiyne O’Marlley (modera


  • Polly-jaiyne O’Marlley (modera
  • Steve Fackerell

    I sit here day after day in a city full of judgemental people, most of them trying to climb on top of each other for better position because they think the view from someone elses shoulders will be better. Although this could just be my bias due to the fact i am so burned out and tired with everything. Including this low income hotel i have been managing for the last 14 years. All the negativity here and the fact that no one cares has taken its toll on me. I am in hell being alone but recently spiritually awakened and at the same time stuck here. I would love to be a part of a community like this. Where opinions matter, where everyone matters and is celebrated for thier contribution. I pray every day that what i have to give from inside doesnt die in this dam hotel waiting for something like this community to come along. Its bad enough to fear your worst fear, its quite a bit different to live it everyday. How can one human be so alone with billions of other people around? You folks have built something truly remarkable!!!

    • Polly-jaiyne O’Marlley (modera

      You hold in their 007 Jane Bond is on it and have been for many many many of those moments your refering too and trust me my kormatic sidekick hasn’t forgot you, telecommunication is under investigation for not been fully honest about how they came up with such technologies because teleconnesis is a natural concept that naturaly exist in all of us, and its our telepathy thats behind such communications. So dont worry hun your normal.

  • treadlightly

    Well, that was a year ago. How now brown cow?

    • Polly-jaiyne O’Marlley (modera

      Threaded nicely!