Sunday, June 23, 2013

this is how we live together: Movement for a New Society and community


a few years ago i moved to west philadelphia, hearing of the thriving community of young Quakers and non-Quakers alike living in the neighborhood.  i had grown up in the philly area, but had spent a few years away, studying and traveling. when i returned, i was ready to reconnect with a young Quaker community, and found a much richer history of Quaker related activism in west philadelphia than i had expected.

how had all these collective houses started, i wondered?  why was there a coop, a community education center, and a thriving farmers' market all within a ten block radius?  as i started asking questions, i discovered that the roots of this activism were strongly connected to Quakers and Quaker values-- "Movement for a New Society," (MNS) a radical experiment in communal living and social change, had been founded in west philadelphia by a group of Quakers in the 70s, and built the infrastructure for the continuing activist community that exists today.

with help from the Clarence Pickett Foundation, i will collect oral histories from participants in MNS and feature the recordings of my interviews on the website,  my hope is not only to capture the history of spirit-led activism that developed in the 70s, but to also provide resources for others interested in group living and social change.  because when we learn how to live together in community, confronting conflict and experiencing joy together, we are much better equipped to work for larger movements for social change.


  1. Look forward to learning more about my 'old' neighborhood!

  2. Although we moved away from the Life Center in 1985, we still make good use of many of the practices that we learned there from 1979-85. You can contact me via my Gmail account if you'd like to interview any of us.
    Cheerio! Jonathan