The workshop “Another World is Possible: Creating Communities that Reinvent Ourselves as we Reinvent the World,” at The Scholar & Feminist 2013: Utopia, offered incredible insight into the process of creating a community based on ideas of equality and respect for diversity. Building utopia requires a complete transformation of the existing notions in society. The ultimate utopia for feminists is based on complete and irrevocable equality between the genders, races, classes, abilities and more. Already, several small communities all across the world are experimenting with creating a new kind of world. The Common Fire Foundation is one of the pioneers in intentional cooperative housing that attempts to provide a safe space for people where their multiple identities can fully engage with each other in the community environment. Common Fire aims to “support cultural transformation by helping create intentional communities where people are committed to leading lives that are joyful, just, and sustainable, from the ground up and the inside out, and to their communities being catalysts for change in the broader society.” The organization is founded on “The Four Essential Characteristics” which focus on: personal growth, engaging diversity, believing the mission statement, and connecting the community to the world.
The workshop not only informed the participants about how communities such as those supported by Common Fire are built, but also engaged the audience around the conflicts that arise from building a community that in essence opposes the status quo. Co-founder Kavitha Rao extensively spoke about the process of setting up the community in New York. The founding members of the Common Fire community started off as strangers who decided to live together, sharing both resources and beliefs. It took almost two years just to negotiate the mission of the organization and its function. Even though Common Fire works against classism, negotiating finances proved to be one of the toughest challenges of setting up the community. The Mission Statement, too, had to be reiterated regularly to ensure all members had a common goal. Despite these hurdles Common Fire expanded its communities across the Unites States and is paving the way for many more cooperative living structures like itself.