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Natural Awakenings Austin

Community Spotlight: Buenavida, A Vision for the Good Life

Sep 30, 2019 02:51PM

By Amanda Patton

Maria Vidal was in her early 30s when she read a book that made a lasting impression on her. In Walden Two, by B. F. Skinner, a professor goes to live in an intentional community as a spy because the college he worked for wanted to expose what they presumed was something bad going on there.  As it turned out, he was so impressed by what he saw that he quit his job and went to live in the community. 

“This type of community has been in my dreams since I read Walden Two,” Vidal says. “Forty years later I decided that it was time to make my dream come true.”

Vidal’s dream, Buenavida, is a budding intentional community with plans to be populated by a mix of singles and small families from a wide variety of backgrounds, willing to share property and responsibilities to attain a higher quality of living in a healthy, gregarious environment.

An intentional community is loosely defined as a planned residential community designed to have a high degree of social cohesion and teamwork.  There are many variations, but shared resources, expenses and responsibilities are common as well as the goal of working together rather than in hierarchy or competition. The contemporary version of intentional communities originated in the 1960s in Denmark with cohousing. 

Buenavida will be entirely secular and aims to attract people with diverse talents, skills and professions who have a proclivity for gardening, eating well, taking care of their bodies and respect for others. “It takes a very special individual to live in this setting,” Vidal affirms, pointing out the important aspect of property sharing with others in a peaceful manner—even when conflicts arise.

At completion, Buenavida will have 18 small houses which will be privately owned, three buildings that provide 36 parking spaces, four storage rooms, a fully equipped gymnasium, two classrooms, a community center, swimming pool and playground. The houses are designed with a loft that could be used for professional services that deal with one or two clients at a time, or an office for those who work from home or run a business that don’t see clients face-to-face. 

Vidal also wants to ensure that children will be living at Buenavida for the multigenerational aspect and that community members are able to own farm animals which requires a certain property codification. Elaborating on the sustainability piece, she shares, “As far as the building materials, we want to use natural, non-toxic materials such as dirt blocks or hay bales which provide excellent insulation and aim to recycle gray waters and rainwater by means of a collection system.”

When asked her favorite part of this lifestyle, Vidal says, “You never feel alone. Think of how many times people get discouraged when they set a goal, then start falling off.  It’s so good to be living in community with people who are like-minded with similar goals and whom encourage one another.” 

In a time when many people feel that our culture places too much emphasis on consumerism and we are separated from one another by technology, politics and hierarchy, this type of environment proves to be an attractive option to many seeking alternatives to that status quo.  Buenavida is one of many options to pursue a deliberate lifestyle and environment aligned to each person’s path.

If you are interested in learning more or applying to live at Buenavida please visit their website at BuenaVidaIC.com/. For more information on Intentional Communities worldwide visit IC.org.

Amanda Patton is an Austin-based entrepreneur and project manager by day and blogger by weekend. You can find her at StoriedWomen.com.

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