Genuine intentional community is a much sought-after ideal these days. As a real experience, however, it presents many interesting, and sometimes difficult, challenges. A semester at Lincoln constitutes a daily laboratory for taking up and responding to those challenges.
Students often come to the OE expressing a desire to experience genuine community and many assume it will happen automatically when they arrive at the OE. Those of us who have lived here year-round know the real challenges that community life presents. For our semester together, we try to talk honestly about struggles and work together in an experiment of community building.
Cabin life requires group planning for meals, grocery shopping, and cabin cleaning. By sharing a space, starting the daily woodstove fire, and participating in small group discussions with others, students learn that building a community is a constant process. Of course, deep and lasting relationships develop in this context, but living so closely also entails handling conflict. We strive to honor our differences and learn from one another. Our hope is that by semester’s end, students will be enabled to engage in community building wherever they find themselves after their OE experience.