Livable Lives Thriving Communities Working Paper

“We Try to Create the World That We Want”: Intentional Communities Forging Livable Lives in St. Louis

This paper analyzes ethnographic research conducted in five intentional communities in the St. Louis region. Intentional communities have long been formed and entered into by people seeking to create more ideal, more livable lives. Our research focused on the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of the members of the five communities, the motivations of members for joining, and the benefits and shortcomings they experience. In reporting these findings we summarize common themes that help us to better understand why people join intentional communities, how those communities work, and the values and goals that underpin conceptions of quality of life there. We also draw from our data a set of recommendations related to policy obstacles and opportunities that are present in municipalities like St. Louis that facilitate or obstruct the formation of intentional communities and their endeavors to create more livable lives.

Project: Livable Lives Initiative


Lockyer, J., & Benson, P. (with Burton, D., Felder, L., Hayes, D., Jackey, E., & Lerman, A.). (2011). “We try to create the world that we want”: Intentional communities forging livable lives in St. Louis (CSD Working Paper No. 11-02). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.