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Natural Awakenings Chicago

Intentional Communities: A Whole New World

Nov 09, 2010 10:34PM ● By Megy Karydes

For Hilda Carper, living in an intentional housing community has been a big part of her life for the past 25 years. After experiencing intentional housing and living with colleagues in Switzerland, she sought out this arrangement after returning to the United States. Her research led her to Reba Place Fellowship, an intentional community based in Chicago and Evanston, with a focus on Christianity.

“What attracted me to living in this type of arrangement is that, as a single woman, I feel part of a community,” says Carper. She and her 12 housemates live in a large Victorian home in Evanston and share meals, chores and even cars made available to them through Reba Place. “Other Reba Place Fellowship housing communities are within a few blocks’ radius, and it’s not uncommon to walk out your door and run into someone you know, making it feel like you live in a village,” Carper adds.

Just a few miles south in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood, Rebecca Harris enjoys the same type of experience living in The Roost, the name she and her housemates gave their home after they noticed pigeons nesting in one of its windowsills.

For Harris, the best part of living in an intentional community is being surrounded and supported by people who care about her and being able to learn from their opinions and perspectives while sharing her own.

The efficiencies the group gains by living together, such as sharing chores or meals, are a big plus for her, too. “This lets us do things we wouldn’t otherwise have the time to do as individuals,” Harris notes. “For instance, maintaining a compost pile outside our building and hauling recycling to the local drop-off center.” Her city neighborhood does not have curbside recycling pick-up.

Carper admits that this type of living arrangement may not be for everyone, and iinvites people to come visit Reba Place to learn more.

For those who want to learn if an intentional community exists in their area or who are interested in starting one, Harris recommends visiting the Intentional Communities Directory on the Fellowship for Intentional Community website at, to search by state and city and locate communities on a map.