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Mainstream notions of the “American Dream” usually revolve around the ownership of private property, a house of one’s own. Yet for the past 400 years, a large number of Americans have dared to dream bigger and bolder, choosing to live in intentional communities that pooled resources, and they worked to ensure the well-being of all their members.
American Community takes us inside forty of the most interesting intentional communities in the nation’s history, from the colonial era to the present day. You will learn about such little-known experiments in cooperative living as the Icarian communities, which took the utopian ideas expounded in a 1840 French novel and put them into practice, ultimately spreading to five states over fifty years. Plus, it covers more recent communities such as Arizona’s Arcosanti, designed by architect Paolo Soleri as a model for ecologically sustainable living.
In this provocative and engaging book, Mark Ferrara guides readers through an array of intentional communities that boldly challenged capitalist economic arrangements in order to attain ideals of harmony, equality, and social justice. By shining a light on these forgotten histories, it shows that far from being foreign concepts, communitarianism and socialism have always been vital parts of the American experience.
About the Author
MARK S. FERRARA is associate professor of English at the State University of New York and author of several books, including Palace of Ashes (2015), Sacred Bliss (2016), and New Seeds of Profit (2019). He lives with his wife in an intentional community dedicated to sustainable living and experiential learning in upstate New York.
"Mark Ferrara’s tour of America’s intentional communities is an engrossing journey into the best of American idealism. Ferrara has focused on communities not widely known and enriches our knowledge of these experimental utopias." — Timothy Miller
"Mark Ferrara brings history alive with vivid descriptions of unique intentional communities, and their idealistic, and often quirky founders. He makes a compelling case that this particularly American impulse to build communities, in order to promote the values of equality, cooperation, and care for the earth, is both in response to the historical moment and also has helped to shape American society through bold innovation. A fascinating read!"