The Questions

About a week ago I jotted the following questions down in my journal, intending to ask them of each community we visited.  We’ve been on the road for 18 days now, and we’ve visited 8 communities, staying at some for several nights and just dropping by others.  Each community treats our visit a little differently.  Some expect probing questions, and would probably be disappointed if we didn’t have any.  Others are more casual, and much of our learning about their culture comes from simply hanging out and observing, instead of actually asking direct questions.  I’ve decided that I don’t want to be a reporter, notebook in one hand and camera in the other.  I don’t want to make our hosts nervous or suspicious, and I want our learning to come from being incorporated into the community (even if just for a few hours) instead of being like scientists researching some exotic species.  In my observations I’m not trying to be completely objective.  I have some idea of what kind of community I would want to live in, and this definitely colors how I see and understand things.  At this point I am not going through this list, asking questions in order and taking notes.  Instead, I’ve memorized the questions and if one or another seems appropriate given the natural conversation, I’ll ask it.  If not, I won’t.  They’re serving as an outline, reminders of the kinds of things I’m interested in knowing, but if they would seem inappropriate or invasive, I don’t ask them.  So far this way of doing things has worked well.

  1. What is the intention in your intentional community?
  2. What is the most enjoyable/satisfying aspect of living here?
  3. What is the most difficult?
  4. What is your decision-making process?
  5. How do you take care of chores/cooking?  Do you feel like this system works well?
  6. How do you recruit/select new members?  What are you looking for?
  7. How do you resolve conflicts?  What are your most common conflicts about?
  8. Does your community explicitly welcome people of color, people who live outside traditional gender norms, and members of other socially and politically oppressed groups?
  9. Do you consider your community “safe space”?  If so, how do you define “safe space”?
  10. Why did you choose to live here?


One Response to “The Questions”

  1. Ollie » Blog Archive » Sugar Shack, Los Angeles Says:

    […] with most of our community visits, I went through my list of “interview questions” and we spoke about each one.  I’m usually frustrated when people say that the intention of […]

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