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Intentional Communities: Resources in Special Collections: Home

This short guide highlights Special Collections titles on intentional communities, especially items that are out of print and not widely available.

What are intentional communities?

"Intentional community" is an umbrella term for several kinds of living arrangements. Definitions will vary, but some key terms used in the library catalog are:

Communal living

"Voluntary cooperative living, usually informal, including the communes that flourished beginning in the 1960s."

Collective settlements

"Traditional, formally organized communal ventures, usually based on ideological, political or religious affiliation." 

Housing, cooperative -- the term used for

  • Co-ops: apartment buildings jointly owned by a corporation comprising all its residents
  • Co-housing: a Danish model where homes are individually owned and common areas or resources are collectively owned

Ebooks on alternative housing

There are some fascinating sources on modern housing alternatives outside Special Collections! Use your MSU ID and password to access these ebooks and documentaries.



Housing activism and assistance

Advent House Ministries: Day shelter and other services supported by a coalition of faith-based groups in the Lansing area.


Capital Area United Way: Multiple focuses, local branch of a global organization. Health, education, and financial stability for the Lansing area. 


Haven House: Ingham County-based shelter for families.


Housing Services Mid Michigan: “opening doors for people in our communities” in the central Michigan region.


Loaves and Fishes Ministries. Overnight shelter and transitional housing in Lansing.

Libguide Editors

Ruth Ann Jones

Dayna Topalian

Stephen O. Murray and Keelung Hong Special Collections

Michigan State University Libraries

Primary sources: book-length memoirs

Celery Wine: The Story of a Country Commune. Yellow Springs, OH: Community Publications Cooperative, 1973

Circle Pines Center: 35th Anniversary Anthology. Delton, MI: Circle Pines Center, 1974

Free Land, Free Love: Tales of a Wilderness Commune. Atpos, CA: Black Bear Mining and Pub. Co., 2000

Hey Beatnik! This is The Farm Book. Summertown, TN: The Book Pub. Co., 1974

Is It Utopia Yet? An Insider's View of Twin Oaks Community in its Twenty-Sixth Year. Twin Oaks Community, VA: Twin Oaks Publishing, 1994

Total Loss Farm: A Year in the Life. NY: Dutton, 1970

A Walden Two Experiment: The First Five Years of Twin Oaks Community. NY: Morrow, 1973

What the Trees Said: Life on a New Age Farm. NY: Delacorte Press, 1971

Zendik Farm. Boulevard, CA: Zendik Farm Arts Cooperative, 1994?

Primary sources: anthologies & periodicals

Alternate Society. St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada: Aquarius Commune. (1969-1970?)

Alternative to Alienation. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Alternative to Alienation. (1975)

Celebration of Free Communities: Readings for a Four-Day Conference on Self-Organisation and Spiritual Politics. No publisher identified: 1974.

Communes. Bridgewater, Somerset, United Kingdom. (1970-1974)

Guide to Cooperative Alternatives. Louisa, VA: Community Publications Cooperative, 1979

Primary sources: LGBTQ intentional communities

Great Gay in the Morning! One Group's Approach to Communal Living and Sexual Politics. 25 to 6 Baking & Trucking Society. Washington, NJ: Times Change Press, 1972.

Lesbian Land. Joyce Cheney, ed. Minneapolis, MN: Word Weavers, 1985.

Lots of Mommies. Jane Severance. Chapel Hill, NC: Lollipop Power, 1983. (children's book)


A kibbutz (plural kibbutzim) is a communal settlement in Israeli. Thanks to the Irwin T. and Shirley Holtzman Israeli Literature Collection, generously given by the Holtzmans in 2010, we have several titles about kibbutz living by Israeli authors.

Catalog records for fiction don't include subject headings, so it's harder to locate fiction on a given topic than nonfiction. We'll add to this list as we find more!

Focus on cooking

Thanks to our outstanding Food & Cookery collection, we have several cookbooks and food memoirs by members of intentional communities. These titles are worth reading for the anecdotes as well as the recipes.

The Commune Cookbook. Crescent Dragonwagon. NY: Simon and Schuster, 1972

Eat, Fast, Feast: A Tribal Cookbook. The True Light Beavers. NY: Doubleday, 1972

Home Comfort: Stories and Scenes of Life on Total Loss Farm. Hugh Beame et al.

Seasons of Plenty: Amana Communal Cookbook. Emilie Hoppe. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1994. NY: Saturday Review Press, 1973.

Vertical files

Vertical files are a way for the library to keep leaflets and other short items that aren't individually cataloged. A file can range from just a few sheets to several thick folders. Special Collections has vertical files on these intentional communities and related organizations.

Secondary sources

Our priority in Special Collections is to preserve primary sources, and the voices of individuals and small groups. These secondary sources are worth mentioning because they aren't available in the Main LIbrary circulating collection. However, you'll find many scholarly works in Main that aren't in Special Collections.

The Candid Kibbutz Book. Nigel Disney et al. London: Middle East Research and Action Group, 1978.

Earth Community: Living Experiments in Cultural Transformation. Susan Campbell. San Francisco: Evolutionary Press, 1983.

Shared Houses, Shared Lives: The New  Extended Families and How They Work. Eric Raimy. NY: J.P. Tarcher, 1979.

Cover illustration for Celery Wine: Story of a Country Commune depicts a table with a bottle of wine, a wineglass, and a vase with flowers.  Cover illustration for an issue of the journal Communes depicts an upright piano standing in a field. The wires and hammers inside the piano can be seen.  Cover illustration of The Commune Cookbook has a photo of the commune members.  Cover illustration of The Candid Kibbutz Book has a photo of a statue of three kibbutz members.  Cover illustration of The Zendik Farm magazine has an owl perched on top of a cottage, surrounded by trees.  Cover illustration for Shared Houses, Shared Lives shows a city street with row houses.