Intentional Community
("IC"), Polyfidelity and "Work-arounds"
(Last looked at: August 13th, 2021. Amazingly, I saw nothing below that I wanted to change this time.)
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"There is an almost sensual longing for communion with others who have a larger vision. The immense fulfillment of the friendships between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality almost impossible to describe." -Teilhard de Chardin

* This web page goes back to the 90s. It evolved from mimeographed flyers cranked out in the 70s. It's gone through name changes (sometimes simply titled "Love", now "Community" again) and about 50 major revisions. Although I'm attempting to keep this edition short and coherent, it continues to be a heart felt statement.

* It could be that my thoughts on relationships are largely irrelevant to a modern person's concerns --that I hardly know what goes on in peoples' heads and loins anymore. Sadly, I no longer have community minded contacts/correspondents nor affiliations. When I did, it ended up being to no avail.

* So many subjects fall under community: economics, franchise/voting, sociology, group dynamics, human "dimensions"/capacities, human purpose/s, sexuality, identity, spirituality/connectedness (with one another, Nature, our common culture). Much of that is addressed on my other pages, however short they fall of supporting "community", as we approach it here. (In an attempt at focus and coherency, I'm not cross linking to those pages.)

* I've been derelict in not having been mindful of the Unitarian-Universalist anchored UUPA: Unitarian Universalists for Polyamory Awareness. (Polyfidelity is a subset of polyamory, despite that the term "polyfidelity" came first.)

* What inspired my 10/30/2019 update and revisions were thoughts about our perceptions of "scarcity" --that motivation which keeps us on our treadmills.

    ~ Although the USA ranks very low in many categories of well being (infant mortality, life expectancy, education, access to health care, etc.), along with other "first world" citizens, we stand tall in comparison to people elsewhere and to past centuries --as to the actual wealth and options we have, but also as to expectations. Of course, societal "standards" are basic to our motivations and sense of "scarcities". Building codes, zoning, advances in medicine, vehicle standards, perpetual styling changes, innumerable tests and regulations --which are all supposed to keep us in such as clean water, clear air and out of those expensive hospitals. (I'm struck by period piece movies with hospital scenes. Patients got an ugly looking bed in a ward. Nowadays there's hardly enough room on the wall for all the bells and whistles, plus all the bedside apparatus a patient is hooked up to.)

    ~ So: how much latitude would a group of rational "intentional communitarians" have in living simply, in trimming away our cultural fat and cultivating what's really important? An appropriate humility should concede that there's much luxury and safeguards we'd want and need to keep, plus more that's simply beyond our reach to do much intentionallity about. However: we do have simplicity and frugality options.

    ~ Travel and transportation, changes of clean clothes, frequency of bathing/showers, heating just ourselves instead of the whole house, life styles and values which obviate/preclude the costly expenses (human and financial) of divorce, avoiding idiotic risk taking for "thrills".

The collective wisdom and resources of an intentional community effort could build in safer, more cost effective awareness and practices, depending on how much infrastructure it can control, influence or "work around". Much can be accomplished simply through home ownership and normal levels of prosperity.

    ~ Identifying with one's actual community/ies (the intentional one and those other affiliations of the greater community/society), rather than with a physical place, can actually lead to greater place stability, less costly (financially and humanly) relocation and alienation. This flows from a well planned and realistically based intentional community effort --and one that's intent on congenial "good citizenship". That might be askew to the greater community's ideas about citizenship, but it should be expressed constructively and creatively --avoiding "protests", "demonstrations", obstruction and confrontation. Gracious acceptance of being outnumbered/voted by idiots, along with quiet, documented predictions of unhappy outcomes --will own the future (however distant).

    ~ So much of our lives is wasted upon poor planning, poor understandings and unexamined emotional decisions --without even satisfying our actual emotional needs. These needless mistakes can easily outweigh the costs/duties imposed upon us by the larger society we live in and negotiate with.

    ~ Intentional community has too often been pursued as a place and a social structure --where people come and go, but it can also be a committed group of sensitively and rationally chosen partners in a formal association of mutual aid and support --a distributed "family" which, over time, becomes an actual set of families. Seen and lived this way, there's no need to fight zoning, occupancy and parking restrictions, neighbor problems, --and no need to get distracted by the host of issues and expenses which building a residential scene from scratch raises. Just work around all that stuff and pay attention to what's socially and personally important --like defining franchise within the group for piloting the way forward and limiting the liabilities which would drag the group backward. Not everything can be anticipated, but any disciplined effort is far better than leaving matters to chance, instinct and "seeing what happens".

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Earlier writ:

* At the core of our motivations are such needs as belonging, group identity, intimacy and a sense of place. "Polyfidelity" (depending on how it's defined) addresses these needs directly, but it challenges "normal" assumptions and conventions. It's vital that advocates and seekers have their ducks in a row. Success in practice also depends on you and your others being in a realistic consensus on the essentials --and: that those issues are in rational accord with our enlightened "hearts".

Even with such matters having been bolted down at home, it's still a struggle to go against the grain of the larger culture/society, our families, and even our own conditioned reflexes. "We are social animals." We are "fish out of water" when standing at a point of departure from the world and its/our traditions. (And that's how it should be.)

* Back when poly was at least slightly "in", and poly-fi was at least a topic in IC circles, I cautioned that it not be pursued as a style statement --as a vain distinction. "Being different" is at best a necessary evil which, in itself, holds no lasting satisfaction. The individual and his/her subculture/group will (or should) always have a need to feel at home in the larger community.

* If you can't personally get to first base in trying to imagine continuous, intimate relationships with more than one life partner (and that might also go for many swinging "polyamorists"), then maybe it's best for you not to trouble with "polyfi" --or with those few who think they can. Hardly anyone can get past their mind sets on such an emotionally and erotically charged subject --which is understandable and normal. There's still plenty of intentional community options one might pursue. In fact: my (long ago) survey of FIC's Outreach offerings demonstrated that those other options are 99.9% of IC activity. (Also: I could be wrong. Maybe polyfi is simply not compatible with human emotions.)

My words here are in support and clarification (hopefully) for those few who are determined to pick their way through the thorns, for those who've "been there" --but maybe not for someone who is actually living IC --especially one that's polyfi. It's for those precious folks to tell us how it works (and how to correct my words-in-a-row on this page).

Some time ago a Google search turned up a group (they prefer "tribe") in Ashland, Oregon:


My correspondence didn't elicit a response. I don't know how coherent they are or whether the "intimate" relationships they seek to develop among each other have anything to do with polyfidelity. However, they present to have sorted their way through to the fundamentals of building intentional community.

In my opinion:

* Strong community is a network of (meant to be permanent) one-to-one relationships.

* "Nuclear" families, with couples growing old in isolation, are fragile basis for our society.

* An intentional community (or "tribe") normally starts with one person, followed by explicit, mutual statements of values and goals as the group gradually grows --in order to lock in "progress made good" and to preserve coherency --even as those values and goals get adjusted. The opposite approach is a mindless "celebration of (a) diversity" (of values and perceptions).

{This space is reserved for links to successful/lasting polyfi and other IC groups: _______________________ }

What's shaking:

* (July, 2019) In these otherwise politically and ecologically depressing times, the Apple Corporation thought a series of PODcasts about eu/utopian community ideas and ventures (titled "Nice Try!") could get some water-in-the-desert traction. Surely, they won't touch social/"lifestyle"/poly alternatives, but you can find a few, easy to digest communitarian backgrounders at:


* Definition: While others usually define "fidelity" and "polyfidelity" on the basis of who you're not intimately involved with, my definition has to do with the keeping of ("remaining faithful to") those you are with --current and future. A better and simpler term (suggested by someone in the PolyFi Wikipedia's "Talk" section) would be "many faithful". An even more basic term: "Love", the gold standard of which is unconditionality --a thing of grace --not necessarily "earned" nor "deserved" --you know: like "God's Love".

Unconditional love is a thing we can at least salute and humbly measure ourselves against. It "tracks" our partner/s through the changes wrought by life: "for better or for worse, in sickness and in health" --since our life partner/s might end up rather different than who we initially signed on with.

--Is it much of a stretch, then, that such unconditionality --attempts-- to make no distinction about who you include in your intimate circle? (There is the necessary "filter" of requiring poly understanding and intentionality from a prospective partner, which is mighty exclusive just in itself.)

* Yes, I very much agree: we are finite --of time, attention, energy and even love, but Love itself is infinite. During precious moments, we can feel as if our own love is infinite as well.

* Yes: there are practical considerations of competence, maturity, hygienics, existing entanglements and a group's right of consensus (unanimous consent) --things which burden our liberties, spontaneity and options. But these things are more about our own shortcomings. Let's acknowledge, but not base our ideals, definitions and identity --on negative factors.

"I love you because":

* Erich Fromm urged us to "stand in love", rather than to "fall in love". While some people are much harder to love than others, a love relationship --one worthy of the name-- is more about empathy and what's inside of you --toward your others, than it is about what's on the inside and the outside of the one/s you love.

* Of course: our "dance ticket" fills up far too soon. A loving person tends to end up over-extended and over-committed. On the other hand: while s/he may have too many cats, dogs, birthdays to witness, and obligations to fulfill; the successful poly gets back a treasury of love and support throughout life. (At least: that's the way it's supposed to work out.)

Making connections:

* The Fellowship for Intentional Community goes way back to the Morgan family, The Vale in Yellow Springs Ohio, and "Community Service", of which my (then) wife and I were subscribing members 40+ years ago. We met Julia, Griscom and John(?) Morgan at an annual gathering. I see from the Wiki that the Community Service story reaches back further (to 1937) and is more discontinuous than I was aware of.

For many years (no doubt to avoid getting into the middle of ugly problems), the FIC stated that it did not allow postings from people seeking intimate partners --drawn from that precious small pool of folks who came to the FIC in search of community. That was a shame, since a couple in a strong relationship is far more likely to overcome problems and less likely to become discouraged, than would be a lonely individual. Never-the-less they did allow postings for our poly efforts. (Such outreach was seldom to be seen from anyone else, however.)

* A basic problem in approaching the FIC for polyFi member/partners is that most folks think of an intentional community as a place --a place where individuals and couples might come and go; whereas the polyfi seeker (IMO) should be looking for an intimate group --for which (if needs be) places might come and go.

* My impressions of polyamorist groups and web sites of past years has not been favorable. They seemed to forever be in development and preliminary meetings stages. My understandings of Love, need and grace seemed to be out of style with them (20 to 40 years ago).

What I've got here for poly group web sites is surely out of date, so be sure to Google up what's shaking now-a-days.

Topics/themes to be developed (by others):

* Who am "I"? --a familiar question, but maybe with an unexpected answer. Who is the "I" who's capable of nuanced, joking, rapid fire, coherent, grammatical speech/repartee? (Really: how can one think that fast?) Might it be the words/memes themselves which are the thinkers and agents, competing/teaming to be next off of our lips?

"What comes before our words?" --is a question I asked as a child, but I still don't know the answer. This somewhat amounts to what Richard Dawkins proposed concerning a society's cultural aspects ("memes" of understandings, beliefs, dress, behaviors). Our conversations might amount to fractional parts of our common culture --talking to itself.

* It's a safe assumption that most of who we are --as individuals --is defined, asserted, understood and remembered as so many chosen words --words, phrases, "memes" and meanings that we borrow from the common culture. I suggest then that after we die, most of who we are lives on in the culture, in the words of our community and the greater society.

For those of us who reference the Christian Bible, here's some supportive exegesis:

"The Kingdom of God is among you."

Various translations render the Greek of Luke 17:21 in various ways. The phrase translated “within you” in the KJV and NKJV is translated as “in your midst” in the NIV, NASB, and NET; “among you” in the NLT and HCSB; and “in the midst of you” in the ESV. Earlier versions of the NIV had “within you” with a marginal note suggesting “among you.”  (See:

* I believe there's a paradox --one which a polyfi person must simply live with and "let it be". When bonded well with more than one, I suspect it's the common experience that each relationship feels rather "monogamous" --complete and completely fulfilling.

* The genuine love of another for you is a thing of grace, given in response to your abject, powerless, loneliness and need.

* It might be a lame limitation on my part. It's not for lack of male friends or availing myself of table and bed with others over the years --but I'm only addressing heterosexual relationships on this page. I leave same gender sexual intimacy for others to develop.

Enough --from me.