method of lizzy

preservations… for posterity

Commune Livin’

Perhaps as a testament to my budding crunchy granola side, the topic of communes has occasionally arisen in the course of conversation with friends. While I am quick to extol the virtues of this type of idealistic, collectivistic society, the truth is that I would not make a good commune dweller. My only interest in commune living would be for improved efficiencies, not for any other political or social reasons. My commune would require only the most self-sufficient, individualistic breeds of people, and I don’t believe that there are enough of us to achieve the kind of efficient, peaceful living that I desire.

Plus, I don’t think my husband would ever go for it.

But a girl can still dream, and that’s what I find myself doing as I read through Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. Ina May Gaskin is the wife of Stephen Gaskin, founder of The Farm, an “intentional community” in Summertown, TN. The community (or “village”, as Ina May refers to it in the book) was founded by hippies bent on saving the world. A large group of them left California for Tennessee in 1971. The rural south, just a brief detour from the Bible belt, seems like an unusual place for acid-tripping, free-loving, peace-making hippies. But remarkably, the community has survived, though certainly not without ups and downs.

Originally it was truly a collectivist community, with all monies being deposited into a shared bank. The local store offered free merchandise. Families lived together in true commune-style. They even tried group marriages for awhile. You don’t have to be much of an expert on human nature to realize that this didn’t last long. In the early 80’s, The Farm boasted a population of 1,500. Despite many successful business ventures, the community was in serious debt. This led to an abrupt change in policy: The Farm became a privatized community. You can only imagine the fallout that must have occurred among the idealistic residents of The Farm. Today, the population at The Farm remains fairly steady at approximately 250.

Farm residents still operate successful business ventures, but it’s the midwives who have made the community famous. In American society, home births are still viewed as counterculture. Yet The Farm midwives garnered international attention by demonstrating that childbirth is a natural event, not an illness that requires hospitalization. The midwives’ boast C-section rates less than 2%. Compare that to your local hospital, where perhaps as many as on third of women undergo a C-section. More on this later, as I am not yet finished reading the book.

Despite my interest in natural childbirth and eco-friendly sustainable living, I just don’t think that I could hack it on The Farm. I’m too much of a loner, and the truth is that I don’t tolerate other people’s weird ideas nearly as much as I tolerate my own.


February 12, 2007 - Posted by | alternatives, books, childbirth, midwifery

1 Comment

  1. You really need to post some photos from the child birthing books you’re reading!

    Comment by James | February 17, 2007

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