Allegheny Crest Intentional Village
A New Way of Living, Working, Relating, Serving, and Playing
Since 2011, we have been creating an “intentional village” near Mt. Storm, WV.
We are bringing together many concepts here: social enterprise, sustainability, extended intentional community, alternative modes of creating connections based on personal growth and trained communication skills, and much more. These can be explored more thoroughly by selecting one of these links:
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The goal of Allegheny Crest is the creation of a consciously designed culture, which can support many of the changes that are needed for the survival of our species (and minimizing the destruction we are wreaking on other species and the Earth). The core insight is that because cultures have mechanisms that resist change (which are essential to the survival of that culture), piecemeal changes are notoriously difficult to bring about. So we can be more effective change agents if we recognize that most social problems come from the structure of the culture itself, and are not just abberations. The most powerful action then is to create a new culture, consciously, that addresses the values that we seek, based in supporting the freedom and dignity of each individual.
Creating a culture is no simple task. A culture has to address almost every issue that a human deals with in a lifetime: play, learning, work, relationships of all types, child-raising, sex, nutrition, health, ecology, money, crime, and more.
There is no single vision behind this process; it is entirely a grassroots development, and is based in experimentation and cooperative learning.
The first step has been to create a strongly connected network of people who share many values and experiences. Some of these people already live in intentional community, and others consider themselves part of an extended non-residential intentional community. Since 1999, we have been exploring, developing, and practicing a variety of tools that help us live in harmony with ourselves, each other, and the Earth.
Allegheny Crest Intentional Village is the outgrowth and continuation of our learning and experimentation.
Our major enterprise is a campground (www.abramscreek.com) which is also a retreat and conference center (www.abramscreekcenter.com). It includes a 4000 sq ft, 8 bedroom lodge house, a two bedroom cottage, 10 rustic cabins, 36 campsites, and a wild, whitewater stream, all on a secluded 20 acres of spectacular natural beauty.
We also operate a nearby motel, which includes 8 motel rooms, a one-bedroom apartment, two 2 bedroom apartments, a 2 bedroom cottage, a three bedroom house, and a small laundromat. We also have a 5-bedroom house for residents that is not rented to the public.
In 2014, the only store in town closed, and it had a devastating impact on the local townfolk. So we purchased it, reopened it, and expanded the services that are offered to folks in the area. We see this not only as an economic venture, but also as a means of connecting to and serving the local area residents. Virtually everyone will be dropping by the store on a relatively frequent basis, and we can use that to publicize and/or host a variety of services and activities designed to support environmental, interpersonal, and societal values. Some examples would be a local freecycle project; a skilled workers’ guild, where all the members guarantee satisfaction to any of the guild-member’s clients; various resource-sharing projects; serving as a depot for home-based businesses that need pickups and drop-offs; providing computer and internet access to area residents who cannot afford their own; and being an information center for matters of local concern.
These help form an economic base for a viable, flexible kind of intentional community that we call an “intentional village”. The distinctions from the usual model of an “intentional community” include that from the start, economic sustainability is built in; we are starting with viable businesses, and we want to create an entrepreneurial “incubator”, so that new businesses are created regularly as well.
Our approach to creating viable, sustainable alternative economics is incremental. We start with something that is economically sustainable, and do what we can as we go along to improve the ecological sustainability. Interpersonal sustainability is also an important consideration, and we have developed a variety of ways to create strong connections among our residents.
Also, no one is expected to make long-term commitments to a larger entity, so that we can live out the practice of “being in the moment”. By supporting a simple lifestyle that is dramatically less expensive and less consumptive than the usual mainstream lifestyle, we are creating an environment in which people are there because they *want* to be there, doing work they *want* to do. Individuals will live near each other, but not necessarily on the same property; members of the village are encouraged to own their own lands and houses. Our culture focuses on encouraging each person to achieve personal responsibility for themselves to the highest practical degree in all aspects of their lives. A critical element of this project is that the tools for creating connection and cooperation are already in place *before* people come together for a particular project.