- What is your vision?
- How did you get started?
- How many people do you have?
- What is the land like?
- Who owns the land and buildings, including the houses?
- Do members share housing?
- What is your governance structure?
- How do I get involved?
- Do you have to be a Quaker to join?
- Do any members live there part-time?
- How do I become a member?
- How much does it cost to be a member? What is the financial commitment?
How We Live
- What does it mean to live in a Quaker community?
- Do people have their own houses?
- How do you share your lives?
- How do you earn income?
- Do you grow your own food?
- Do you allow pets and farm animals?
- How is your lifestyle environmentally sound? How do you care for the Earth?
- To increase the mindfulness, spiritual focus and God-centeredness of our lives by finding and living near others who share these goals and thus will reinforce, on a daily basis, our desire to live in worship.
- To strengthen our family life both by creating a "village" setting in which to raise our and others' children, and by caring for our elders. This includes an emphasis on leaving behind cultural obstacles that interfere with providing the time and energy that healthy family life requires.
- To examine carefully our participation in the national/international consumer economy and begin to build the critical mass necessary for viable business networks and sources of goods and services more appropriate to our Quaker testimonies.
- To focus on a lifestyle that is environmentally sound and that attempts to give back to our planet as much as is taken from it.
- To include a good measure of joy, fun, outreach, and service in our lives as we strive to meet the first four objectives.
- We believe that our community’s success in achieving these five intentions will be aided by memberships diverse in race, age, ethnicity, sexual preference, and economic situations, and therefore it is our aim to gather communities whose members are diverse in these ways as well as others.
We are in the process of re-writing these intentions to reflect our growth and change as a community.
How did you get started?
From 1993 to 1995 Jens and Spee Braun convened a “Community Building” discussion group at Wilton Monthly Meeting in Connecticut out of their leading to build an intentional community. Over the next 5 years, many people participated in contributing ideas, energy, time, and dedication to the project, including Interest Groups at New York Yearly Meeting’s Summer Sessions and a Powell House retreat on “Deep Community.” In the year 2000, Jens, Spee, and several other interested individuals found the land where we now live and made the concrete commitment to community by purchasing it. For more information and a timeline, see our History page.
How many people do you have?
Currently we have six member families and one family interested in membership who lives on the land. These 7 families include 13 adults and 12 children. We are seeking new members to join us.
What is the land like?
Together we care for and love 135 acres of mixed pasture, farmland, woods, and wetland. The houses surrounded by gardens are clustered on the south-facing hill on either side of a dirt road, and there is a larger community garden as well. We have wild apple trees and cultivated cherry, apple, and pear trees, many flowers both cultivated and wild, wild thyme, and all sorts of berries and some nuts. In the winter we have cross country ski trails crisscrossing the snow. Many species of birds thrive here, and a resident coyote family thrills us with late night howls and yips. A creek runs through our land in a deep ravine and several vernal ponds produce raucous spring peeper and bullfrog choruses.
Who owns the land and buildings, including the houses?
As a community, we own all the land in common, but the houses on the land are owned by the resident members. We do own two buildings in common: the farmhouse, which serves as our common house, and a large farm shed that was on the land when we got here. One house is currently owned by a member family no longer in residence and this house is rented to a family interested in membership. The community is working on acquiring this house, which will be rented to members. An apartment unit will also be owned by the community and rented. We have sometimes rented space in the farmhouse to a member family.
Do members share housing?
Members do not currently share housing, though if a family rents the space in the farmhouse, it shares common space with the community. Another family built a house whose basement level is being built out into an apartment.
What is your governance structure?
We make all decisions by a process called “sense of the meeting” or “unity.” These are Quaker terms for a process that goes beyond consensus to seek the will of God.
Our main decision-making happens in monthly business meetings, while various committees, from Membership to Land, oversee specified areas of our life together, make some decisions, and bring recommendations to the larger body at the monthly business meetings.
Where are you located?
Our land is on a well-maintained gravel road, with little traffic and a small number of other houses, just outside the hamlet of East Chatham in the township of Canaan, New York. Located in Columbia County, we are 35 minutes from Albany and Hudson, 20 minutes from the Berkshires of Massachusetts, and 2.5 hours from both Boston and New York City. For more information and directions see Location/Directions.
How do I arrange a visit? Do you host visitors?
We welcome visitors to QIV-Canaan! Contact us ahead of time to determine the best time to visit for your purposes--our Friday evening potlucks are a good time to meet members in a casual way, but not necessarily a good time to see our land, gardens, and houses. We hold meetings for business monthly and these are open to potential members and attenders as well, with advance notice. Contact member Spee Braun (518 392-0891, 9 am to 9 pm) or e-mail email@example.com if you'd like to arrange a visit.
While we welcome those interested in our community to visit, we presently do not offer visitor housing. However, within six miles of the community is Powell House, a Quaker conference and retreat center, that often has reasonable, overnight housing available. In addition, there are several B&Bs, motels, and inns close by.
How do I get involved?
The best way to get involved is to come to our weekly Friday (6 pm) potluck dinners; you will get a sense of the people and the place who comprise this community as well as get to know some of our supporting F/friends and neighbors. If you are still interested, you can ask about coming to any of our committee meetings to start to get a sense of our governance.
Do you have to be a Quaker to join?
No! Currently all member families do have some regular affiliation with our nearby Quaker meeting, Old Chatham Monthly Meeting, but not all identify as Quaker. You just need to be open to the Quaker process we employ.
How do I become a member?
We do have articulated steps toward membership that have served us well in the past. The goal is to come to a sense of clearness, for the applicant as well as the community members, about whether the fit is a good one. In short, after getting involved with the community through potluck dinners, committee meetings, and monthly business meetings, and getting to know member families, an interested person or family expresses their interest in an application letter. See Getting Involved and Steps in Membership for details.
How much does it cost to be a member? What is the financial commitment?
See our Financial Aspects of Membership page.
How We Live
What does it mean to live in a Quaker community?
While a primary intention of creating this village is to uphold each other in living mindful, God-centered lives, there is no requirement to be Quaker. We share core Quaker values of simplicity, peace, equality, community, and integrity, and we make decisions using Quaker process (see the governance question above).
How do you share your lives?
We eat together at least once a week, we garden together, we delight in each others’ children, and we care for this land and its non-human inhabitants together. We work together to care for and maintain our common house, including harvesting downed wood from the forest’s bounty for heat and hot water, cleaning the chimney of our wood-burning stove and furnace, washing windows, shoveling snow, and mowing common lawn areas and paths. We hold centering silence together, however briefly, before, after, and when needed, during meetings, and many of us worship together at our local Quaker Meeting. And, most importantly, we enjoy each others’ company, care for each other, challenge each other to live ever closer to our intentions, laugh and play together, and share joy and appreciation of the beauty we are a part of.
How do you earn income?
Most current members are employed, though several work from home. For example, our community includes, a finish carpenter, an international relief and development consultant, a social worker, a psychologist, a midwife, and a professor.
Do you grow your own food?
We do grow a lot of our own food, enjoying much of what we grow at summer and fall potluck dinners. Some of us grow most of what our families consume. Some produce jams, pestos and pickles, and freeze produce to get through the winter months. We currently have sheep and pigs, bees, maple syrup, and chickens for eggs, and there is always a possibility to produce more.
Do you allow pets and farm animals?
Yes! But we do have a process by which they are invited into the community. Please see our Policy on Animals.
How is your lifestyle environmentally sound? How do you care for the Earth?
Please see our article on Earthcare (care for the environment).