For the purposes of this project, we’ve collected two interviews from residents of MorningSun. The audio recording from the interviews can be listened to here. Here are the five questions Albert and Ren answered:
- Why did you decide to join/form an intentional community?
- What are your responsibilities as a member of the community?
- How long have you been a member of MorningSun for? Could you share your overall experience?
- Do you feel your reason for joining MorningSun is being fulfilled? How so?
- Does living at MorningSun solve or help solve problems that you experienced in the larger society?
For easy reading, here is the summary of what Albert and Ren had to say about living in an intentional community:
Albert decided to join MorningSun because the community is in line with the meditation and mindfulness practices that he says are in his heart. He also mentions how sustainability is what drew him into the community. On the other hand, Ren feels that it was important for her to join an intentional community because of the need in todays world for people to gather together.
As for responsibilities, Ren noted that there is a bi-annual meeting where the members of MorningSun come together to divide responsibilities, like building, snow plowing, and finances. She helps serve breakfast, and gardens as well. Ren says that the responsibilities as of now are loose, but will grow as MorningSun grows. Albert supports the days of mindfulness and leads multiple day retreats, organizes, cleans, cooks, and helps build (although not mandatory). The biggest responsibility, Albert says, is welcoming newcomers that visit.
Albert has been a member of MorningSun for 6 months, but will still be living at the community in Alstead after a trip on the road. He is an unofficial resident who rents as opposed to buying a lot and building, like Ren did. Ren has been a member of MorningSun for 7 years and has lived in her own home that she built for one year so far. In her experience, MorningSun’s residents communicate well with each other and care about each other, but there is still a lot to learn, especially as the community grows.
Albert’s reason for joining MorningSun was to live at a place centered around practicing mindfulness, and he says that is being fulfilled there. Ren says she is feeling even more fulfilled than she expected at the beginning of her full time stay at the community, but her journey there is still just beginning.
Part of MorningSun’s mission is to help relieve suffering from the world, and it does just that, according to Albert. The community helps the people of the (nearby) world practice coming back to themselves, it helps provide calmness and insight into peoples daily lives. According to Ren, MorningSun helps solve problems of the mainstream world by being a place where people can slow down and be in a truly healthy environment, because the broader culture can be difficult to live in.
From the point of views provided by Ren and Albert, we see that MorningSun is intent on being a place of practice, where any and all are welcome to simply share communion with other people that are trying to live in more mindful and healthy ways. MorningSun is not a religious community by any means, but many of the teachings descend from Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, and are of the nature of teaching your mind how to calm itself down, without any religious structure. Other than this attribute, MorningSun shares many qualities with the Shaker communities of the early 19th century. “The Shakers believes that common property would ensure spiritual union (one heart, one soul) among the members of the new community” (Reece, 29). While the Shakers were a Christian community, and were intent on reflecting the heavenly kingdom while on Earth (at the Pleasant Hill community in Kentucky), the members of MorningSun believe we can cultivate a similar environment where we can share happiness with each other, be treated equally, and live focusing on sustainably – but without ties to a common god or worship. MorningSun most closely resembles Pleasant Hill, but is not exactly like it.
Reece, Erik. Utopia Drive: a Road Trip through America’s Most Radical Idea. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017.