Can Intentional Communities Govern Themselves?

Presented by: Pat Wagner

Book This Topic

Program Number: CD 214

Program Level:


The United States has a history of individuals designing utopian communities, where like-minded people live and work together, hopefully without the ills of the greater society. Most have failed, regardless of the governance model they use to deal with decisions and conflicts. Is it possible for intentional communities – communes, cooperatives, religious organizations, co-housing – to last?


  • Introduction: A Short History Of Intentional Communities
  • The Key Idea: The Will To Govern (The Ability To Make Hard Decisions) Is Necessary
  • Why So Many Fail: The Escape Hatch And No Overwhelming Reason To Stay Together
  • All Communities Need Formal Ways To Resolve Problems
  • The Pros And Cons Of Different Methods
  • The Gold Standard: Participatory Democracy And True Consensus
  • What We Have Learned


  • Apply different methods of governance to improve community decision-making.
  • Avoid governing methods that create elites and mob rule.
  • Create effective contracts for explaining community expectations.

Suitable for:

, ,


, ,