Get to know us better:
Here are a few more Milestones we reached along the way:
We initially began getting organized by answering 9 essential question. Later we began reading "Creating a Life together" by Diana Leafe Christian and went through the vision finding process that she describes.
In August we started learning about sociocracy and began learning how to apply this form of self governance and superb decision making process.
In September we spent a three day weekend together and found we had a lot of fun together. We deepened our sense of togetherness, appreciation for each other and our alignment in our vision.
In October we all went to an evening training in socioracy at the Cohousing Community in Northampton. Uli started a year long training a month later.
Vision / Mission Group
New Members / Outreach Circle
Vision / Mission Group
Sociocracy / Process Circle
Born in 1962.
I feel extremely fortunate to live and work in Berkshire County. It’s a bucolic place that combines nature, farm-to-table culture, all the arts, recreation and lots of cool folks.
I love nature, food, art and design, photography, movies, theater, dance, travel, psychology and spirituality. I am fascinated by what makes people tick, and how they live their lives.
For years I’ve been interested in community, from a few different perspectives. One is the need for workforce and affordable housing to foster a more functional and vibrant local community, despite being an up-market resort area. This brought me to be on the board of Construct. Another results from groups of friends talking about how to more gracefully grow old together with each other’s help. And, mostly, I’m interested in community because it’s an opportunity to live more aligned with my beliefs and values.
The world feels like it’s running off the rails, and living in conscious community makes sense on so many levels. I have happily grown accustomed to an isolated life in my beautiful hillside home with my cat and dog, but this isn’t my highest aspiration. I feel compelled to explore a more sane, healthy, caring, connected, joyful way of living rather than remain in my mainstream middle-class American trance. I know community life won’t always be easy, but I know it will be worthwhile. Being in the founding group since January 2019 has already been more than worthwhile—it’s been a blessing for which I’m very grateful.
I grew up in Manhattan (NYC) and Pompano Beach, FL., lived in Northern California for 14 years, and Boston for eight. I've been living in West Stockbridge since 2006, and I couldn't be happier.
I went to McGill University and studied architecture at Rhode Island School of Design before moving to the West Coast to save the world. (I'm still working on that.) I cooked for workshops, retreats, weddings and Wine Country events for many years. I also worked in the Healing Arts for many years as a massage therapist and Watsu (aquatic bodywork) practitioner.
I have engaged in a lot of personal growth work over the years.
MY CURRENT WORK:
I became a REALTOR® in 2005, and have been working with Lance Vermeulen Real Estate in Great Barrington since 2007. I love my community and I am passionate about sharing the beautiful Berkshires with others.
Buying and selling homes goes beyond the nuts and bolts of the job. It's about people's happiness, their life changes—their dreams. Ultimately, my love of people fuels my work.
When buyer clients often tell me how good I am at tuning in to them—that I "get" who they are and what they're looking for--it’s the greatest compliment.
Born in 1957
Currently live alone in my own home in Lee, MA, here in the Berkshires.
I grew up in Philadelphia but enrolled at age 20 in Boston University’s Program in Artisanry for a bachelor’s degree in metalsmithing and jewelry design, and have lived in Massachusetts ever since. In my 30s I shifted gears from custom goldsmithing to clinical social work, which is what I still do today, though it’s only in the past couple of years that I finally took the leap from working for others to creating my own full-time private psychotherapy practice.
Helping people to get unstuck by identifying and healing their traumas is extremely gratifying work, and I consider myself privileged to be able to make a living in a way that calls for such deep and caring connections. But what I find myself equally interested in is the potential that can be manifested when a group of people comes together with a shared higher intention. This is what led me, in my 40s and early 50s to live in a spiritual community (now defunct) and what motivates me now to cofound the Berkshire Intentional Community. It has always seemed to me that humanity has so much more brilliance than what we might currently settle for from a mentality of simply surviving the slings and arrows of everyday life. How sanely and creatively and beautifully might we live together if we put our minds and hearts to it? What might it be like to live in a village of bright, creative people of all ages, supporting one another in living our best lives? It seems that there is a lot we can build on a foundation of respect and nondogmatic acceptance.
I hope and strive, together with this amazing group, to bring these ideals down to earth in the most practical ways.
Currently living in Lee, MA with her husband of 11 years, Rod.
She grew up in Germany and has been living in the Berkshires since 1998.
She has been teaching Pilates in her home studio for 20 years and over the past 3 years has been spending more and more time on climate related issues. That led to one of her Pilates clients starting a non-profit with her: ener-G-save. They work with towns and schools to foster climate and energy-related leadership in communities.
"I have always longed for community. I wanted to join a kibbutz as a teenager, then lived in one spiritual community’s centers in India, Germany and the US when I was 20 and joined another spiritual community from 1995 through 2013.
Living, working, creating with others to grow into more conscious, mature, whole and happy people has always interested me. I discovered that being committed and being part of a committed whole, is really one and the same thing as being completely myself. And being with others who are also interested in creating this larger whole together, bringing their gifts and talents, their strengths, fears, concerns and joys, makes me feel very alive, in harmony with the earth and the role I imagine we as humans can and need to play on it.
So whether or not we actually build new homes and gardens on land or whether we create a community based on existing homes, gardens, organizations and relationships, I am holding this focus of “realizing humanity’s unity”. I can’t think of a more challenging and fulfilling purpose.
Every community has its unique character. I hope ours will unfold through involving a growing number of people who are interested both in the inner and outer dimensions of interconnectivity of all living beings and enjoy exploring and manifesting that together."
Tomma von Haeften
Sociocracy / Process Circle
Web Site Manager
Vision / Mission Group
Born in 1960 in Germany
Lives in Great Barrington, MA with her husband Jim.
Went to art school and was an abstract painter until her early thirties. Then changed her focus to healing and transformation work, and trained in several modalities, which she offered in her private practice. Currently she is most inspired by teaching people how to hold weekly intention circles and guiding clients through altered state plant medicine journeys.
She is also a devout gardener, loves hiking in the Alpes, and cooking gourmet vegan food. Once a year she and Jim travel to Europe for two months so that they can spend time with their european families.
For the last three years she spent one day a week to take care of her ex-husband, who lived with progressed Alzheimers. He passed in July of 2020.
"In my opinion living in conscious community is the most fertile place where we can learn how to create a more peaceful and sustainable world. So much of the pain I have seen human beings suffer from comes at the core from a deep sense of separateness or alienation. Somewhere deep down I think we all have this longing for profound inner and outer connectedness. It feels like something we humans need to remember, something we need to jointly figure out again how to do. I believe it's part of this transition into a raised vibration.
So I really see this very complex process of creating a community as a powerful way I can contribute to the wellbeing of our planet. It seems to be the most fascinating and rewarding endeavor I can imagine right now.
What I most look forward to are the regular experiences of collaboration; whether in cooking dinner together, tending gardens together, or solving a problem together... I am so eager to experience a lessening of this dominating, pressurized mindset of "I have to do this on my own."
Lives in Lee, MA
Grew up in Vancouver, B.C. Canada
Works as a Contractor, mainly for residential remodeling.
"Since leaving Canada at 20, first settling and living in Laos and Thailand between ’70 –’74 where it was mainly about fellow travelers living together and discovering a common, slightly removed lifestyle. ’75-’79 was a combination of buying a farm amongst a loose collection of land communes in Bavaria, Germany, and in ’76 becoming a follower and student of Bhagwan Rajneesh, later known as Osho. ’79-’85 living in the ashram in Poona, India, Seattle, and the Rajneesh community in Oregon. ’90-2010, became a student of Andrew Cohen, lived in the community, first in Marin, California and then in Foxhollow, Lenox MA. Since then been living in Lee, MA with my wife.
Most of my life I’ve been drawn to the idea and sensibility of living communally. For most of that time I was inspired by a spiritually directed commitment. Now it seems more about building relationships and working together to actualize a vision for collective stewardship."
What do you hope will distinguish OUR community from some generic “Intentional Community” ?
"I would hope that I and it keeps being informed by the potential for new combinations of creative interplay and management. There have been so many incidences where our collective has informed me and made decisions from a space of listening and inclusiveness. This space seems to be a good place to meet and be guided through the complex and arduous task of forming a vibrant community."
Born in South Bend, Indiana in 1952, however became a Berkshirite at an early age.
I come from a large family of 7 children and am honored to have 2 soulful young men as sons. Widowed when they were young boys, we bumbled our way together which usually meant working 2-3 jobs until they were grown. Fortunately, they have also returned to the Berkshires recently and help out with the care and support of their grandmother.
After about 16 years in West Hartford, CT as a special education director and overseeing a large private school for children with severe trauma histories, I returned to the Berkshires to be closer to my mother now 92 and needing more family support.
Currently I work as the Special Education Director for a small private special needs school serving children with complex special needs in southern Berkshire.
From an early age I have been drawn to children and individuals that seem to have a harder time being understood. When I was in high school I worked at the local girls club in a drama class for young children, convinced I would open a school for children to “have a voice”. This led me to college as a drama major only to realize I am much too much of an introvert to be front and center. I receive more joy from joining with others to bring out the best we can express ourselves.
From an early age I went out on my own exploring the world around me, which usually meant hiking in local mountains and later hitchhiking without a destination, but curious about who I might meet and share what came our way. This wanderlust later brought me to India, Tibet, Bali, Thailand, China and countless other explorations when time allowed.
For the past few years I supported an orphanage on top of a mountain above Mexico City. This orphanage started as an ashram that adopted as their darma the care of children who couldn’t easily be managed in the larger more institutional orphanages of Mexico. With a vegan lifestyle, lots of love, yoga and daily work the children thrived. However they were struggling with how to educate the children with their wide range of special needs. Until our recent pandemic I visited at least 3 times a year with frequent communications in between.
In addition to my work with the orphanage in Mexico I have been committed to spending 26 hour long weekends in a high security prison in CT facilitating a program called Alternatives To Violence. I have been so humbled and impressed with the inmate’s openness to exploring different ways of being in the world and their deep commitment to their families and each other. It saddens me that this has all had to come to such an abrupt halt during these times.
Living in community has been a soulful desire for as long as I can remember. As a long time student of Sociocracy/Dynamic Guidance I worked with a small group before I moved to CT to start a community in southern Berkshire based on sustainable building practices, interdependence that combined independence and intentional community focused events and sharing. We had a beautiful property in New Marlborough that suddenly disappeared when the owner became nervous about US politics and chose to sell it commercially and move to South America. Prior to finding the Berkshire Intentional Community I was seriously considering moving back to Bali or Northern Thailand after family needs were satisfied. It feels like a dream to have met such a strong group of like minded individuals truly by chance. The members of this community honor the sociocracy process with deep listening, compassion and the tolerance to address the hard issues that are necessary to create community. Every meeting leaves my heart full and strengthens my belief that this is the type of community I have been seeking for such a long time.
Sociocracy / Process Circle
I was born in 1950, in South Charleston West Virginia.
I was always interested in community, from my teenage years on. I felt it was weird for everyone to have their own Everything: kitchen, washer, dryer, etc. My interest in community, spirituality, vegetarianism, yoga and running led me to living in an ashram for 10 years.
I had wanted the sharing of Stuff, like, Life-Stuff, lake and art on the trails. I wanted to live in the company of like-minded folks. I manifested that in the Kripalu Community.
I love learning. I got a Masters in clinical psychology and, since most women got two Masters degrees, I chose to go on for a doctorate in educational psychology. I worked in mental health centers, taught graduate and undergraduate psychology in Kansas. But statistics and teaching about dead psychologists wasn’t enough for me.
I came to Ma. to become part of the Kripalu Community. I did many things there in the past 34 years, working in the children’s program, on grounds crew, to teaching and designing experiential psych-spiritual programs. I was Dean of faculty and for the last years, a workshop programmer. I really enjoyed bringing good transformational teachers and healers to Kriplau.
I’ve been involved in leaderless groups in many forms. I studied Gestalt therapy and out of that training, a small group of us formed and continued to meet for decades. I have also been involved in Quaker meetings and leaderless book groups. Kripalu Center, in the days of the ashram, relied in many ways on group voice.
Now I have just encountered sociocracy through the BIC. I think it’s the best governance system I’ve ever seen. It has the best facilitated groups structure I have worked with.
Lastly, I love the people in the BIC. They are smart, warm and filled with integrity. They are all committed to working on personal growth and making the world a better place, as I am.
Art and Creativity
Sociocracy / Process Circle
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. This really seems true. You can see it in action when a group tries to solve a problem together…how varied points of view and ideas, if heard with open ears, can create solutions that are wiser and more robust that any one person can deliver on his/her own.
Before I got involved with BIC, my experience with community was mainly through my Buddhist sangha, a group/network that meets regularly to practice, based on the aspiration to heal suffering and become free.
Participating in my sangha, I found myself being changed in ways I am really happy about. It was less through advice or preaching by anyone than it was through example.
I’d see another member’s reactions and behavior…how they really walked the talk. This inspired me to work toward manifesting my deepest values. I believe that in community, we can “rub off on each other” in ways that furthers our personal growth. Of course, we can also “rub each other the wrong way”, which is the challenging part about being in community. What helps me is remembering my intention to connect with others with caring and respect. It’s also important to be open, and to learn skills of self- care and wise interaction.
Berkshire Intentional Community offers the vision of living in co-housing and in harmony. I want to help make this happen.
My background includes a PhD. in clinical psychology. I spent two decades working as a management consultant to large corporations with a focus on leadership and team
building. I also engaged in the private practice of psychotherapy for many years. These days, I teach programs and coach people in conscious communication, based on the
nonviolent communication work of Marshall Rosenberg. And, I teach and facilitate mindfulness meditation in a Buddhist context.
I’m thrilled to be part of this wonderful group of people known as Berkshire Intentional Community.
Born in 1947
Judy is a Native New Yorker who has lived in the Berkshires for over 20 years. She has been a teacher of English as a second language, traveled extensively, and worked for many years at a nonprofit, educational and spiritual organization. Some of her work at the organization involved overseeing printing jobs, researching for magazine writers and interior decorating.
She currently is actively engaged in climate action on both the local and National level and started a blog site called Spotlight Planet Earth where she writes reflective essays related to our environmental crisis.
A good part of her life has been in what could be called the spiritual dimension – meditating and working at Buddhist meditation centers for ten years and then being part of a spiritual community where the focus was very much on collective consciousness, evolution and going beyond one’s sense of limitation.
Community, what could be called communion with like-minded individuals – the power of the collective mind and heart - has always been of primary importance to her. She often experiences the love and insight that comes from being in the “we” space where there is a shared sense of connection and where so much more can be seen and understood.
Having lived and worked in communities for much of her life, her interest now in living in an Intentional community comes from a much deeper understanding of who she is, what she values and wants. What is of primary importance to her is a quality of relationship based on mutual respect and care; that embraces both differences and similarities and fosters growth in understanding, tolerance, creativity, and love.
Judy helped care for her dear mom at the end of her life over a period of six years. During the last three years of her mom’s life and one year after she died, Judy wrote an essay every two weeks on a blog site called, “When the Table turns.” Being with her mom in such a loving way, writing and honoring her indomitable spirit, has had a significant impact upon her and one to which she is forever grateful.
These days what gives her a lot of joy is painting, reflecting, reading, writing and being together deeply with others.
Comic Relief Specialist
I was born in Los Angeles, CA in 1945 and continue to defy impulses internal and suggestions external to act my age.
My stepdad played pro baseball and so my family had our shares of summer adventures, with a pack up/long drive in a smoke-filled station wagon most Aprils over the next 10 years: Spokane, Ft. Worth, St. Paul, Cleveland...a moveable childhood.
When I was 18 I won a Congressional appointment to the U.S.A.F. Academy. After two years my dream of becoming an astronaut felt both naive and ill-considered – the military life was not for me.
Back to Southern California to become a writer. I became an actor instead. As a core member of South Coast Repertory Co., one of the top theatre companies in the country, I played major roles in 19 productions: Death of A Salesman, Spoon River Anthology, Three Penny Opera, America Hurrah! and more.
After 3 years of nonstop acting I burned out and moved to Eugene Oregon. My ex and I bought into a little restaurant with friends. We grew our own vegetables, cooked, waited on tables and performed for the guests. We were a pocket family/community, all living together in one country home. I played enough mandolin to accompany our belly dancer. Also studied the formulas to build two geodesic "bedroom" domes that we lived in.
On the wind-blasted dunes of Cape Kiwanda, Oregon, I learned to hang glide, a passion that would change my life.
On a visit to L.A. I met mega-TV producer Aaron Spelling. He cast me in a part for a Rookies episode that led to me co-starring in a new show: SWAT – a big change from skysurfing the Oregon sand dunes.
When the show was cancelled, I had two baby daughters to feed and not enough acting work. After a failed attempt to start life anew in Durango, CO, we hit hard times, my wife left me and as a new single parent with joint custody of my girls, I needed a steady job.
I’d written a couple flying articles about my ultralight airplane exploits for a leading magazine publisher. That connection led to an editorship of a flying magazine where I got to do it all: write, shoot, edit but most of all, fly all the new (sometimes dangerous!) ultralights. In time I became Managing Editor, writer and photographer for Outdoor Photographer, Plane & Pilot, Pilot Journal, PC Photo and other magazines.
After 8 years, itchy feet again. I left the publishing staff grind but continued as a freelancer for 25 more years. In that time I authored 4 photo books on nature photography. Two won Nature Book of the Year awards. I'm proud of that. Better was the fulfilling life experience of collaborating with the top nature photographers of our time: the late, great Galen Rowell, David Muench, Frans Lanting and Art Wolfe, among many.
In 2001, with my girls off to college, I met my future wife online. Eight months later we’d become inseparable: I moved out East where I’ve learned to tolerate ticks and New England humidity and love the snowy winters.
We have made a good life here. I’m retired and enjoying the creative things I've always been drawn to: stained glass making, piano, drawing and painting, airplane model building...and re-committing to writing my novel.
Though I’m grateful for many blessings, once I left the Academy, acting and the restaurant "family" in Oregon, I never again enjoyed the fruits of community.
Our time spent spinning dreams of community with our new and valued friends here has been an interesting and rewarding journey. And forward we go to the adventures this quest for belonging has in store for us.
Profile to come soon.