By: Sabrina Simon
As more and more people realize the benefits of living in community- that sharing resources, emotional growth, and the responsibilities of making this world a more habitable place for our future generations, new intentional communities are on the rise to suit specific niches and needs. Serenity Community for Justice and Peace, a BIPOC-led organization has identified that in Louisa County, there is a growing need for people of color to have access to community in a way that feels safe and inclusive of their unique perspectives and life experiences. It’s an unfortunate truth, but one that is certainly being given attention and care- that Louisa County communities are majority white. This fact is a symptom of a systemic issue that affects our whole country. Not just in Louisa County are intentional communities majority white, but in fact all American IC’s are almost exclusively populated by white, middle class people. Creating diversity within communities that have a long history of lacking in racial diversity has proven to be a difficult journey- one that can feel uncomfortable, painful, and confusing. After several attempts of BIPOCs to integrate into these majority-white communities, some feel that the best option for them is to create a new community that is incubated through a BIPOC lens with the focus of healing and liberation.
Serenity Community a newly developing intentional community whose focus is towards education and trade skills while aiding people under the poverty line to experience alternative lifestyles in community. It is important for Serenity to provide experiences to people of color to explore living on the land and within nature as they (as we all do here in Louisa County) believe that closer relationships to nature support greater emotional and mental health. They are also working on creating programming for summer camps, providing outreach and bridges for BIPOCs in local cities to experience rural living, creating housing for foster care programs, and creating curriculum for home-schooling. One of their commitments it to maintain a flexible membership process so that they can best work with families living in poverty. Serenity could also be considered an intentional community incubation project, where their aim is to provide the training, land, and other resources necessary for other BIPOCs to follow their model and continue creating more communities.
Speaking with Britiah Walker, an organizer and member of Serenity Community, I learned that Serenity members (as most are ex-communards) have a consensus view of race within communities. They have experienced discomfort and a lack of support from majority white communities. It is Serenity’s goal to create educational workshops for majority-white communities on how to talk about and approach subjects of race and how to create safe spaces for POCs. It is important for Serenity to maintain positive and progressive relationships with the other Louisa County communities as we all truly need each other to create positive change.
She also mentioned an important difficulty she feels that Serenity is running into. She feels there is a tension between Serenity and other Louisa County communities in that they might feel Serenity is taking away the diversity these other communities have worked to obtain by being a more attractive for BIPOCs. Britiah countered this idea by making a point that Serenity would be contributing to more diversity in the other communities. If there is a safer and more comfortable landing ground for BIPOCs coming from outside the area, as well as a greater draw for BIPOCs to Louisa County communities, they might feel more comfortable exploring other communities. It is common for people visiting a community in Louisa County to also explore some of the other communities as we are all a part of a larger organism. Britiah believes that if Serenity creates more of an attraction for community living for POCs in surrounding areas, they will be inspired to discover what the other communities can offer them as well.
Now how does this all fit into Quink!? As you may well know, a Quink Is the opposite of a trauma- a life-changing experience that transforms it for the better. Often, when people find community, it changes the course of their life and contributes to them living more aligned with their ideals and purpose. I asked Britiah about a Quink that Serenity has experienced as a whole, and she told me about the potluck Serenity hosted at the Mimosa house. The potluck was an event to introduce Serenity to Louisa County communities. Serenity members made a few pizzas but worried they wouldn’t have enough food or support to make it an impactful event. To their surprise, over 50 people from the communities came to show their support! Britiah felt overwhelmed with the amount of support they received, as parents were asking to organize work parties for their kids, and everyone showed interest in helping Serenity realize their dreams. Even some older communards mentioned how they had never seen such excitement for a new community.
So how can you help Serenity get on the ground? Right now, the best way to support Serenity Community is by offering labor hours. They have a ton of work to do at their new home, the Mimosa house and in their farm work (they have 10,000 garlic orders to fill!). As well, the Mimosa house and property is only where they will be getting started, so they still need donations and assistance in fundraising to purchase their own property.
If you would like to offer any in-kind contributions, donations, or labor, reach out to Britiah Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about their community, check out their mission statement here.
Serenity Community will be presenting at the Meet the Communities event on Saturday at 10am at QuinkFair! We hope to see you there!