Desiring community off the grid

Jim Heynen had a very distinguished, even illustrious career in guiding institutional change. Now he’s living off the grid in the depths of Manistee National Forest  and wondering about community

I wanted isolation and, just beyond my isolation, I wanted community. The Bitely Tavern, with its world-class olive burger and falling-down back wall, is a start. But I came for more: the bonding of neighbors who have differences, but share a common need for one another.
The forest has made good on its promise. We have serenity. But this “community” thing has proven elusive. I’ve wondered if there’s any such thing; it feels like snipe hunting.

His conclusion is that community is something he must create. This leaves a sort of an urbanist question: how do we live together if we insist on our privately living apart?

There are all sorts of analogs here, perhaps the best being that of the old monastics: do they leave separate as hermits (per Desert Fathers) or in a monastery, in community?  Here, Benedict is as good a help as any: community takes enclosure, stability. It’s sticking to it where you are. To the extent I create community at all it is through the door of service.

 

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