papa festival (3)

As previously mentioned, those of us at this year’s People Against Poverty and Apathy Festival (PAPA Festival) were an eclectic bunch. The Swanson/Davidson clan spent a few conversations wondering what the commonalities were that brought people to Plow Creek Farm for the weekend.

I think Bob was the first to notice a major theme among the festival-goers when he said, “As I’m talking with folks they assume I live in some type of intentional community.” And, as simple as it sounds, that was the common interest: community. Over the course of the weekend a few things stood out about this desire for community.

  • Most of the festival attendees were folks in their 20’s. I’m sure the idea of camping with a bunch of strangers in a farmer’s field is probably more appealing to those of a certain age. Even so, I’d venture to guess that these 20-somethings are representative of a generation of people who not only highly value friendships, they are devoting time and resources to figuring out how to live in community.
  • When people talked about community at PAPA they meant different things. For people at JPUSA and Reba Place it generally means sharing a household. For some community means intentionally living in close proximity with others in order to share resources and close relationship. Most folks seem to envision intentional community happening in urban environments (often in order to serve under-resourced neighborhoods) but there were some experimenting with household communities in the suburbs.
  • Many of the attendees seemed interested in moving beyond vague descriptions to a more clearly defined theology of community. Leroy Barber’s presentation on The Beloved Community was one example of this. In summary, Barber riffed off of 6 of Dr Martin Luther King’s themes: creation stewardship is a justice issue, poverty is unacceptable in all its forms, there is never a place for racism, non-violence, choosing love and trust over fear and hate, and resolving conflict by speaking the truth in love.

As I explore how to raise the value of community at NC3 in the city, I will draw in part from our experience on the farm.

And then there is this question: Is the hunger for community something new that has been impacted by certain cultural realities? Or, is this simply the latest expression of something that has always been true? Any thoughts on this would be much appreciated.


One thought on “papa festival (3)

  1. i think we can find examples of community all throughout time and history, just not called community. think of your college dormitory, or the people you lived with before getting married, or the sports team you were a part of, camping trips and stuff like that. community is everywhere, the desire for community is inside everyone, no matter how materialistic or isolated the person may be, what is lacking is intentionality. mother teresa tells us that the greatest and deadliest disease in the world today is loneliness.

    if we begin to make a very generic survey of community in the context of christianity, we’ll quickly find all sorts of pleas for a truer way to live. this is what drew me to the bruderhof. young people like myself read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s ‘Life Together’ and feel hopeful that a life dedicated to Christ means also a very transparent life dedicated to sisters and brothers.

    i’ll end with another question: is it a hunger for community, in all its beauty and ugliness, or do we simply long for some proximity or togetherness?

    peace and love

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