Bread Town

A rough draft for a new model of an intentional anarchist community


I have some trepidation putting this online in its current state. To say that it’s a work in progress would be a drastic understatement. I share it here because, left to my own devices, I don’t think I could make much more progress than I already have. I hope to receive feedback and input to improve this text, and so let’s consider it a living document awaiting further improvement and revision.


I have been interested in intentional communities since childhood. It might stem from the fact that I grew up in the deep South surrounded by people who had very different values than myself. The idea of starting a new community with like-minded individuals who shared my hopes, dreams, and worldview seemed very attractive to me. When I read about 19th century Utopian communities in high school and college it was always fascinating, yet troubling as well, given that they tended to fail so miserably.

At some point in my early 20s I laid to rest my fascination with intentional communities. Human nature simply would not allow for the manifestation of such lofty ambitions in the real world. As such I turned my attention to local politics and activism, figuring there were better chances of improving society by working within the system that already existed rather than trying to build one from the ground up.

Since becoming an anarcho-communist my interest in intentional communities has become rekindled. I can’t help but dream of building a little foothold for anarchy, a leftist-libertarian homestead which could serve as a test bed for developing anarchical means of organizing socio-economic activity. For a working title let’s call this project Bread Town, named after Kropotkin’s masterpiece The Conquest of Bread.


A lot of anarchists advocate for direct action to demonstrate that a state is not required for the smooth functioning of society. Many anarchists are out there carrying out activities ranging from filling potholes and squatting in abandoned buildings to provide housing for the homeless, completely circumventing state structures to solve social problems directly and immediately.

I see building an intentional community – at least potentially – as a form of direct action and as a proof of concept for our ideals. If a group of anarchists could build a functional and effective intentional community we could show that the state is superfluous and social order can be established consensually.

There are good arguments against intentional community aside from the simple assertion that they “won’t work.” Many leftists see intentional communities as selfish escapism. Leaving your community to go live in a utopia is an act of privilege and does nothing to help the people who are left behind, unable to escape their own circumstances of oppression.

Let me be clear, I must admit that *starting* an intentional community is absolutely an act of privilege. In order to participate in the foundation of an intentional community one must have a level of social and financial freedom that is unavailable to those in poverty we leftists hope to liberate.

But we must consider the possibility that an intentional communities could play an important role in the wider struggle for revolution:

  • They could serve as laboratories for developing anarchical systems and social processes.
  • Physically and socially concentrating leftists could lead to more rapid development of ideas and structures that could aid wider society.
  • Once well established, intentional communities could become havens for oppressed peoples to migrate to in order to escape, or at least alleviate, the direct oppression they face in the world at large.

We must also be fully aware of some of the risks and potential pitfalls we’d face, as well:

  • If the community fails, it must fail gracefully. We must come out of it with a humble message of lessons for future attempts at intentional community. If it fails spectacularly it will serve only as future propaganda against our anarchist ideals.
  • The community must be inclusive and intersectional. There is a major risk that it will be homogenous in terms of race, gender, sexuality, or class background. Every attempt must be made to have a wide range of people represented and integrated into the foundational structure of the community.
  • The community must be positioned “outwardly.” It would be useless to develop a colonial island concerned only with its own development and affairs. We must look out to the wider world and use our position to liberate and support our comrades in the wider world.
  • Perhaps most pragmatically, we must avoid power and ego struggles that have been the downfall of so many intentional communities. The entire community must be united with the vision of equality and solidarity and every effort must be made to prevent any individual or group of individuals from wrestling for power, prestige, or control. The very fabric of the community must be woven from humility, egalitarianism, and compromise within the scope of leftist principles.

Another simple fact we must face is that we will be developing our intentional community within the confines of a capitalist-imperialist nation. I am American, so I write from that perspective, though I suspect there will be similar circumstances in every developed country. We must be realistic about what it means to build an intentional community in a Western capitalist country:

  • We will need capital to pay for our land, facilities, taxes, and other necessities.
  • We will need a deep understanding and familiarity with capitalist business practices in order to sustain ourselves financially in the long term.
  • We will need to work within the legal limits and framework of the state we inhabit.
  • We can’t expect to be isolationist nor wholly self-sufficient. Even if we could grow our own food, provide our own electricity, and otherwise sustain ourselves materially, there will always be a necessity for fiscal interaction with the outside world and, indeed, with the state that governs the land we inhabit.

To put it simply, there is no hope of building an anarchist society within a capitalist nation. There is, however, a hope for building a society that is as anarchist as possible given the circumstances, and that should be the target we set four ourselves.

What follows is a rough sketch of how I think it might be possible to build an anarchist intentional community in the USA. I am sure there are many errors, and I welcome feedback to improve this template. If I can find enough like-minded individuals, I’d love to come together to form a community dedicated to the dream of making this vision a reality, so please do contact me if any of these ideas interest you. I look forward to your ideas!

The Business Model

The United States of America offers very little in the way of legally establishing an intentional community. As I see it, within any state, there are only a handful of ways for people to legally come together.  In the USA, the following institutions can be formed:

  • Families
  • Religious Institutions
  • Businesses
  • Non-Profit Organizations

For our purposes, only the latter two could be realistically considered for our purposes. It may seem intuitive to select a non-profit organization as the form of entity for our intentional community, but I have worked with many non-profits over the years professionally and they carry with them some heavy limitations:

  • Non-profit organizations are heavily regulated and monitored by the government.
  • There are strict limitations on how funds can be raised and distributed.
  • There is a heavy burden of paperwork and reporting with non-profits.
  • There are many limitations on freedom of speech and usage of funds to maintain a non-profit status.

It should come as no surprise that business entities have the most freedom and flexibility, as institutions, within a capitalist society:

  • There is tremendous freedom and flexibility in how businesses can be structured.
  • Businesses have the same rights to freedom of speech as individuals.
  • Businesses can generate and expend capital freely so long as they pay taxes and follow the laws of the state.
  • Compared to non-profits, the state is much less restrictive and requires far less reporting and documentation.

For the reasons above, I believe that forming an Limited Liability Company or similar member-owned business entity would be the best legal framework for an anarchical intentional community in the USA.


In the USA, an LLC is owned by members. In very simplistic terms, there are two components to membership:

  • Financial shares represent the percentage of ownership of the business, the rights to returns on investments, and the responsibility to debts and liabilities.
  • Management shares represent the “say” or “vote” one has in the operation and direction of the business.

As anarchists, it makes perfect sense that membership in the community would be divided equally among every individual member of the community. There would be some questions and complications that would need to be hammered out, of course:

  • There may be some natural resentment from members who provide more capital to the company, especially if the capital is invested in a time of crisis.
    Example: the wind turbine has been struck by lightning and a new one must be purchased. Comrade Smith provides ten thousand dollars from their own personal funds to pay for it. Months later, in a community debate, Comrade Smith feels very resentful that things don’t go their way after they’ve invested so much of their own personal money into the community.
  • Conversely, if debts are accrued and the venture fails, members of the LLC who come from a background of poverty would face the repercussions with greater difficulty and burden than those coming from wealthier background.
    Example: Comrade Lee came to the intentional community with $20 in their bank account and a debt load of several thousand dollars. Unfortunately, things just haven’t worked out for the community and it looks like the LLC will need to be dissolved. Suddenly Comrade Lee’s debt load increases by a couple thousand dollars more, which is devastating to Comrade Lee. Meanwhile, Comrade Rodriguez, who has several hundred thousand dollars in their bank account, won’t think twice about paying off their share of the failed LLC’s debts.
  • There is also the question of children, and whether/how membership would be inherited.

Membership will need to be restricted, especially early on. As much as we’d like to open the doors and let literally everyone come to the community and become a full member, that is highly unlikely to work in practice. Like any business venture in a capitalist society, growth will need to be planned and coordinated and expenses may never exceed income without turning the venture completely upside down, financially.

How and when to accept new members, and who should be accepted, will be some of the most important questions such an intentional community would face. We must also plan for the expulsion of members, as it is inevitable that some community members will move on voluntarily or need to be expelled involuntarily due to problematic behavior.

Principle of Charity and Membership Distribution

Perhaps there is a better name for this idea, but I believe it will be vital to avoid some of the problems of personal financial inequality and financial resentment with a principle of charity that must be assumed by anyone who would invest financially in the community.

Anyone who brings their own personal money into the community will need to consider their contribution to be an act of charity, community building, and risk. Once money is contributed, the contributor must accept plainly that this is not a traditional financial investment. There is no expectation or guarantee of financial return. There is, on the contrary, an assumption of risk.

One must never contribute financially to the community if they are not also willing to face the financial responsibilities of a potential failure. As leftists, we must stand to reason that those who have the personal means to contribute the most must also have the personal means to carry any debts resulting from failure.

In concrete terms, financial membership should be distributed based strictly on contribution while managing membership should be distributed equally to every individual member.

As a very simplified example, assume there is an intentional community with 10 members.

9 members contribute $10,000 each. 1 member – call them Comrade Rich — contributes $90,000.

This example is to explain the concept only. In reality such a heavily lopsided membership would be extremely problematic. If Comrade Rich decides to call it quits they could force the community to buy them out which means the other members would be forced to pony up 90% of the value of the business — $90,000 or more – which would probably collapse the community.

Therefore financial investment and management will need to be carefully monitored and planned. No one member should ever be permitted to own such a large financial share in the community. Partnership agreements, limitations on financial shares, and other mechanisms would need to be enacted to prevent a minority of members from forcing the community into a catastrophic buyout.

Community Taxonomy

The community will need, at the minimum, the following organs to operate:

  • At least one Business Engine that generates money for sustaining and growing the community.
  • Facilities where members can live and work and personnel to maintain and service facilities.
  • A Logistical System to feed, transport, and otherwise provide for the basic needs of community members.
  • External Partners such as lawyers, banks, and partner organizations within the wider community.
  • A Human Resource System to provide general mental and physical wellness programs and provide conflict resolution services for members.

All of these systems will of course need to be maintained, organized, and governed by committees and those structures will be discussed later in the Community Organization section.

Community Life Cycle

I see an intentional community as having four phases of growth:

Phase 1, Foundation: Establishing the legal entity, the homestead, and the business activity that will lay the groundwork for the community.

Phase 2, Stabilization: Making the community self-sufficient and profitable and priming the entity for future growth.

Phase 3, Expansion of Scope: Eventually the community will be healthy enough to transition from mere survival mode to become more of a force for positive change in the wider world. We would become a haven for oppressed peoples and invite poor and disadvantaged people to move to the community and also engage in direct action activities that will benefit the wider world.

Phase 4, Seeding: Eventually sufficient capital and experience will be raised to help build other intentional communities in other regions from the ground up.

Phase 1: Foundation

The foundation of the intentional community would need to be carefully planned. There would be some very specific requirements for founding members in terms of the skills and assets they could bring to the table. We would need people with time, people with money, and people with skills.

People with Money:

Money will be required to:

  • Create the LLC, pay lawyers and fees, and get everything in order legally.
  • Buy or rent land.
  • Build or improve facilities.
  • Pay utility fees.
  • Develop the initial Business Engine for the community.

Therefore we will need founding members who can bring hard currency to the table to finance the establishment of the community.

People with Time:

Founding the community will require a substantial amount of uncompensated time. Hours upon hours will be spent:

  • Filing paperwork, meeting with lawyers and state officials, drafting partnership agreements, and forming the LLC.
  • Locating a proper site for the homestead.
  • Preparing facilities for occupancy.
  • Organizing and communicating with the community online to make sure everyone is looped in and able to participate with every major decision that is made.

People with Skills:

Some skills will be vital for establishing a community:

  • Legal skills to negotiate the landscape of lawyers, contracts, and bureaucracy that will be involved.
  • Business skills to plan and establish the Business Engine of the community.
  • Financial skills – good and transparent accounting and financial planning will be vital for the success of the community.
  • Technical handiwork skills. Having plumbers, electricians, carpenters, mechanics, and other technically capable personnel will be required to maintain and improve facilities, vehicles, and other assets.
  • Culinary skills to prepare food for the community.
  • Logistical skills to coordinate the community.
  • Mental and physical health skills to keep our community healthy and strong within and without and to provide conflict resolution.

Composition of Founding Members

Given the above considerations, our founding personnel might break down something like this:

  • 10 “angels” who are willing to contribute at least $10,000 each to the community foundation.
  • 20 other members who will contribute on average $5,000 each to the community foundation.
  • 5 technicians who would not have to contribute any money.

That would provide for a pool of 35 founding members and $200,000 in working capital. Five to ten thousand dollars is not a small sum of money but it’s about the same price as a decent used car and many middle class people spend much more money than this on hobbies, travel, and other non-essential pursuits in a given year so I believe it is a reasonable sum. Additional funds could be collected through a crowdfunding site like Kickstarter or IndieGoGo by leftists who see the utility of building such a community but who do not have the means or desire to inhabit from foundation.

Each member would agree to relocate to the homestead, reside there, and work full time for the community for at least 6 months with no expectation of financial compensation.

From the pool of investors we would need:

  • 5 to 10 “Business Engineers” with experience relevant to the planned Business Engine industry.
  • 1 or 2 legal experts – actual lawyers would be ideal to save on legal expenses.
  • At least 2 certified mental health professionals.
  • At least 1 communications expert with experience in public relations and marketing.

Under the category of “nice to have but not strictly necessary” would be:

  • Musicians and performing artists would be great for morale and community building.
  • A doctor or nurse practitioner, or at least a registered nurse, willing to live in our community and provide basic healthcare would be fantastic.
  • An IT tech would be great for maintaining computer systems and networks and providing cyber security.

The technicians would include:

  • 1 electrician
  • 1 auto mechanic
  • 1 plumber
  • 1 general contractor/carpenter
  • 1 cook

It would probably take at least a year of planning and recruiting to put together such a group of people but I believe it could be done.

Member Responsibilities

All community members will be responsible for providing their own transportation to the location of the community and if a community member with vital skills must exit they should be willing and able to find a replacement.

Skilled community members will be required to teach other community members how to perform their functions, and each community member will be required to learn other skills and become as versatile as possible. This skill development should be a priority for the community and a certain number of hours should be spent every week doing cross-training with the expectation that, in time, members will be able to rotate and perform different job functions on a week-to-week or month-to-month basis.

This will reduce the monotony of any one vocation and ensure that no single member of the community is irreplaceable or holds too much sway.

Community Organization

The community will be organized and governed on anarchist principles. Direct democracy and open source government will be used to form all committees and to make all major decisions that affect the community.

At the founding stage weekly and ad hoc “town halls” could be held in which every single member of the community is able to participate and vote directly on decisions. For the purposes of orderly communication it would be wise to have an Executive Committee that handles day-to-day operational oversight and the members of the committee would be chosen randomly and rotated monthly so that every single member serves on the Committee.

Sub-committees would be similarly designated and no single member will be permanently placed nor have any sort of privileged position.

As the community grows in number of course there will need to be some stratification and specialization. Let’s use a hypothetical Facilities Committee as an example.

During the Founding Phase, with a very small community of only 35 members, the Facilities Committee would probably require the facilities technicians – the electrician, the plumber, and the carpenter – to attend every meeting to act as consultants and make recommendations.

As the community grows significantly in number adjustments may be made to community organization.

Say for example the community grows to 100 members and, through cross-training, 15 members become highly proficient in technical skills related to facility maintenance, it may be decided to form a Union of Facility Technicians who can carry out the day-to-day decisions and operations of the facility in collaboration with the Executive Committee (which will always and forever be composed of randomly and evenly rotated community members). Major decisions that affect the entire community will always be put to vote through direct democracy.

The Business Engine

Vital to the success of the community will be the generation of funds for maintaining and growing the community. We will have large bills to pay from day 1 and as such generating revenues through one or more business ventures will be a fundamental area of operation for the community.

There are many businesses which could be chosen to sustain the community, but one must be chosen that meets the following criteria:

  • Low startup costs – funds will be tight in the beginning and the business must be able to operate with as little initial capital as possible.
  • Trainability – it must be possible to train community members in the required vocational skills so that every member of the community can become proficient and productive in contributing to the operation of the Business Engine.
  • ROI – it must be “profitable” in the sense that much more money comes in than goes out to operate the business.

Given these criteria, I see the following business models as highly promising for a foundational Business Engine:

  • Boutique farming: growing high quality fruits, vegetables, or livestock for sale
  • Boutique craft production: creating high quality craft items such as furniture, handcrafted clothes or personal items, or even electronics items
  • Online services: Providing website production, social marketing and other online marketing services, creating apps, or otherwise providing digital services to businesses/non-profits or to the public.
  • Experience/Adventure Tourism: Providing guests with the opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities or other experiential tourist activities.

The business model that is chosen will depend on the location of the community and the composition and background of the founding members.

Location and Facilities

The location of the community will probably need to be fairly remote to control real estate costs. Land will probably need to be rented initially, unless a great deal is found or, better yet, the community has the great fortune of finding a member who is willing to donate real estate that is sufficient for our purposes.

While the ultimate goal would be for every community member to have ample personal space to enjoy a private domicile this is unlikely to be attainable at the outset. Instead, the community will probably have to be founded as something resembling a military barracks at worse or a hostel at best. Community members will need to embrace a spirit of austerity and try to enjoy the experience of putting aside personal comfort as they build a society for themselves.

Work and recreation spaces will need to be available in addition to places to enjoy physical activity. Ideally there will be enough space for there to be some quiet spaces of solitude and relaxation away from the crowd.

Community members will be free to leave the grounds in their free time and some community-owned vehicles should be available for shuttling and “field trips” and other excursions should be planned regularly, especially if the homestead is quite isolated and remote. Logistics and regulations will need to be planned for the visitation and housing of guests as well.

Daily Life

What would daily life be like for a member of our community? In the early days it is unlikely that it would be particularly comfortable and everyone would be willing to work hard and pull together to build towards sustainability.

During the founding phase, as explained above, it is likely that residents will live in community buildings with relatively little in the way of personal space, though it should of course be a priority to improve and expand living spaces as rapidly as possible to allow for steadily increasing personal comfort and future expansion of the community.

Each member should be expected to spend about 8 hours per day working for the community:

  • Initially, each community member will have an assigned vocation related to their expertise. They will spend about 4 hours per day working in this capacity.
  • Additionally, each community member will spend 2 hours per day in cross-training, either teaching their skills to or learning skills from other members.
  • Remaining time will be used for chores — unsatisfying work that nobody really wants to do, like washing dishes, cleaning facilities, doing yardwork, etc., and contributing to community projects that require large labor pools. These jobs will be assigned and rotated evenly throughout the community.

Initially, members will likely be confined to working within a single vocation. As the community stabilizes and matures, and as community members become more versatile through cross-training, duties can be rotated on a weekly or monthly basis so that no job becomes too monotonous and all members can enjoy a variety of vocational activities throughout the year.

Hour-for-hour trading of tasks may be permitted – if Comrade Lee likes washing dishes and Comrade Smith likes mowing the grass, it should be fine for them to trade their assigned tasks to their mutual benefit. However, it will be important to prevent abuses. For instance, it may be found that a member offers to pay another member money “outside the system” to perform a duty. I.e., Comrade Rich might offer Comrade Lee $30 to do their chores for the day. This kind of capitalistic exploitation would be a gross violation of community standards and, in legal terms, a breach of contract, and even be grounds for expulsion from the community without compensation.


Over time, it is hoped that the community will prosper. The Business Engine will be generating surplus income, the facilities will be expanded and founding members will enjoy increasingly comfortable living conditions, and the community bank account will be growing instead of shrinking each month.

At this time, members should begin to receive some personal income from the LLC in the form of distributions. The size of these distributions can be considered carefully and decided by the community. I believe it may be beneficial, early on, to have a transitional period during which members with disproportionate financial membership could have their stakes “bought down” by the LLC.

For example: Comrade Rich initially invested $2,000 in the company, giving him a 20% financial membership in the LLC. Every other member of the LLC has only 10% financial ownership each. Comrade Rich should be given a higher distribution than every other member until his membership share is “bought down” to 10%, equitable with everyone else.

This could go on until all members can have a completely equitable financial membership in the LLC.

Of course, this transitional phase could be skipped entirely if every member is unanimously comfortable with holding a completely equal financial stake in the LLC.

What’s important is that, as quickly as possible, every member of the LLC will have a steady personal income in order to survive and thrive within the wider capitalist society in which we exist.


Eventually the community will decide it’s prepared to expand the size of the community and the scope of operations.

It’s time to recruit more members.

This expansion of membership will be the greatest test the community is likely to ever face! As new personalities enter the community, there will be friction, resentment, and new challenges every day. Candidates should be selected based on the following criteria:

  • Ideology: Membership must be restricted to leftists who believe in the values of the community: tolerance, egalitarianism, and the principles of anarcho-communism.
  • Diversity: As much as possible, the community should be composed of people from a broad range of social gender and sexuality, ethnicity, and socio-economic background.
  • Skills and Aptitude: It may be necessary to recruit some members based on the skills they bring with them. However, we must always remember that skills can also be taught and learned within the structures of the community, and allowances must be made for everyone to grow within the community!
  • Need: As quickly as possible we must begin to welcome in people who are in the direst need of a shelter from the oppression of the outside world! We must locate and invite candidates who have physical and mental disabilities, battered spouses, homeless individuals, individuals who are unemployable due to time spent in prison, etc.

I mention former convicts, which may give some readers pause. Realistically we must know that there will be some people who may wish to take advantage of our system or capitalize on our goodwill. It will be important to balance our desire to bring in and nurture the disadvantaged with the safety and needs of the community. The requirements for membership will need to be determined by the community members themselves and each candidate will need to be carefully considered, reviewed, and voted in by the community.

In addition, there should be a probationary period during which members may reside and work with the community for several months. During this time the probationary member will be a legal employee of the LLC and be paid in accordance with the law. Some funds should also be set aside to transport the resident back to their place of origin and provide severance pay should the probation not work out and the candidate’s employment must be terminated for whatever reason.


This is only a very rough sketch for how an intentional anarchist community might be formed within a capitalist society. There are countless other issues and considerations which must be addressed, and no doubt countless flaws within my reasoning above, but I do believe that together we could work out such complications and build functional intentional communities in the real world.

As I mentioned when we began I invite your critique! If you are interested in the idea of forming an anarchist intentional community, or if you have any feedback or contributions to these ideas, I am extremely interested in hearing from you. I do hope that one day I can participate in building a community similar to the one outlined here so that we can put our anarchist principles into practice and develop methods of building consensual and egalitarian societies and proving that the capitalist state is not necessary for people to live, work, and thrive together.