My friend Linda Smith, who is a resident at Hawk Hill Community Land Trust and was a part of the Aradia oral history project (see post one), read my thoughts on the recent article about lesbian communities in the New York Times. (See post one and post two here.) She wrote me an email in response, which I am posting here with her permission. Thanks Linda!
Nice to hear from you! I just read your blog entries on the article in the NY Times. I too hope there will be more “conversation between generations of women who are intrigued by the idea of communal life, and spark creative, contemporary approaches to experiments in living that will help our elders and youngers improvise lives worth living.”
For me, as a feminist in the 70’s, separatism was a strategy not a political position or a life style. I think it is sometimes important for women (or blacks, or other oppressed peoples) to separate from the oppressive culture in order to discover who we are apart from the stereotypes imposed on us. To contact our own power and source of being. Remaining separate and at odds with the dominant culture isn’t the goal. Most of us involved in feminist consciousness raising and women-only groups in the 70’s have chosen to act out our truth in the world. To contribute to the culture and the evolution of our species. This is a spiritual question for me. One of the major problems in the world today is the false belief that individuals and groups are in fact separate – we are all connected, men/women, Jews/Christians/Muslims, and all living beings.
I think a healthy community grows organically and changes with the times. I live on an environmentally protected landtrust. There are five households and six lesbians living here. We are not a commune – we have no community buildings and do not share our income. In many ways our community includes our neighbors and the surrounding environment. We do not own our land but have 99 year leases. By signing our leases we agreed to specific “covenants” designed to protect this land, the waterways, and all the creatures living here. There have been many changes in the world since the first lesbian land groups formed. If younger women (or perhaps men, or ?) are going to come and take care of this land after we are gone we’ll have to be more flexible and learn from each other as you suggest! At Hawk Hill, as far as I’m concerned, it’s really about the land, all the creatures living here, and our relationships to these and each other – not about lesbian separatism.
Thanks for you thoughtfulness.