A School of Living Land Trust Community
We began as an extended nuclear family of three households, meeting
to explore and create a cooperative land trust community. Having several decades
of various homesteading and community experiences among us, we shared ideas
and looked at rural land in western Virginia. In 1980 we committed ourselves
to this endeavor by purchasing a parcel of land in Rockbridge County.
We started with 47 acres of hilly farm land with a bold spring,
a pond, and a few falling down buildings. The open land was overgrown with
thorny vines and small trees. There was no electricity nor roads. It was beautiful
but we had lots of hard play ahead of us. Since then three more households
have joined us, with some of them coming from previous community experiences.
In 1987 the land was put into a regional community land
trust with the School of Living. Four parcels
of land have been bought totalling 80 acres with less than 10 acres usable
for agriculture, the rest being forested mountain land. It is situated 16
miles southwest of Lexington, Virginia and about 45 miles northeast of Roanoke,
We have cooperatively developed roads, water, electricity, gardens,
a swimming pond, pavilion, a shop-shed barn with transitional housing above
and, with the greater community, a community center. Individually we have
each developed our own personal homestead area.
We intentionally wish to remain small, to perhaps double our
present size, but we stand ready to help others establish separate communities,
preferably in the local area.
Some of the challenges we now face are that we are just too
busy, that we need to improve our communication and listening skills, and
that we need to clarify and prioritize our personal and community objectives
in an all too full life style.
- To establish a small cooperative intentional community.
- To live in harmony with nature.
- To maintain a conscious balance between the personal
and social needs of people.
- To educate and empower ourselves and others by using
the techniques of non-violent conflict resolution.
Individuals are accepted into membership by consensus or failing
that, by a 3/4 vote of the membership after a 6 month to 2 year Provisional
Member status. We are accepting new members and have 3 home
sites now available . We limit ourselves to considering two prospective
new households at any one time.
We have very limited living accommodations and expect people
to find or negotiate their own temporary lodging. Also, we have no provisions
for people to earn their livelihood while here, though with our gardens we
can help out on food requirements.
Some independent financial capability will be necessary to build
a modest home. At the present time an up front non-returnable fee of $1500
per adult is required upon becoming a member and a monthly fee of $100 per
household which includes land tax.
Our cooperative orientation and earth friendly life style has
taught us that homesteading skills are needed to assure success.
See the Common Ground New Member Policy for
more information on membership.
Some members prefer a vegetarian diet; others are omnivorous.
There is no central religious theme, each member following their
own spiritual leadings. Some specific paths include Wiccan, Quakers/Christian,
Native American practices, and Surat Shabd Yoga. Acceptance of the oneness
of all people is the basis of our spiritual unity.
Methods of educating ourselves and our children are individually
chosen. Some families have chosen home schooling with a home schooling facility
on site. We have no formal child care program.
We usually celebrate birthdays with pot-lucks, song-fests,
etc. We occasionally play baseball,volleyball, etc. Our swimming pond is
heavily used all summer. Three of our members play the guitar. We sometimes
see a video movie or program together. But the most common community activity
is the voluntary work-day which occurs some Saturdays when we enjoy each
other and the satisfaction of improving our community. Fruits of past workdays
include building and improving our Shop Shed, our roads, swimming pond,
pavilion, fencing out the deer, etc. We grow as much food as we can for
ourselves. During the warmer months, some Saturdays are spent developing
and tending our organic gardens. Harvesting and canning keep us busy through
We encourage the development of listening skills and looking
at disagreements as an opportunity for growth. Training and classes in conflict
resolution have been held. When needed, we support the use of mediation.
We strive for win-win solutions to our inevitable problems and disagreements
rather than traditional win-lose solutions.
The membership meets quarterly in business session using consensus
or modified consensus.
We have folks with solid carpentry and mechanics stills, a shoemaker,
a jewelry crafter, a retired school teacher, an audio-visual librarian,
a college paraprofessional tutor/Reiki master, a child and family counselor,
a Montessori teacher, and a bookkeeper.
We do not share income, although individual families have tried
some home based income producing ventures. We are open to sub-groups pursuing
this type of option.
Over half of the acreage is being managed cooperatively
by the community. A yearly budget is adopted and each household is assessed
a monthly fee to cover the expenses of maintaining and developing this
Managers and committees are selected to plan, to coordinate
and to supervise community work to be done.
Visitors are welcome on weekends during warm weather(April through
October) upon pre-arrangement. We have tent camping space available at $5.00
per day. We have some additional visitor space also available with prearrangement.
The School of Living holds title to the land as a community
land trust. Common Ground, a cooperative (not communal) community, holds
a perpetual land-lease. Common Ground then gives a personal homestead area
agreement (PHAA) for two plus acres to its members. Individual developments
(improvements) on the PHAA land must be negotiated
and approved at a membership meeting. Such developments are owned by the
School of Living, Fellowship
for Intentional Communities, Intercommunities Network of Virginia.
If you would like more information about Common Ground or would
like to arrange a visit contact Tony Corazza TonyatLexington@Yahoo.com
SOL Intentional Communities Page
SOL Community Land Trust Page
Common Ground By Laws
Common Ground PHAA
Common Ground New Member Policy
Common Ground Visitor's Policy
FIC Home Page
Common Ground By Laws, New Member Policy & PHAA are provided as a resource
for other communities Who might be looking for examples of legal documents