Raiz Creation Manifesto

In search of information about communities I came across an informative and inspiring research by Manuela Kunar, which I would like to share. Please do not hesitate to contact me or Manuela should you have any feedback or questions.

Enjoy! Judith Volker

Livingin community: Success and failure: What are the reasons?
Part 1 & 2

By Manuela Kunar

Translated in English, original article in German click here.


What is important when founding a community? The first part of this series is about responsibility, values and communication.


Two years of "Community Research Journey" have taught me many things - especially: Living in community has to be learned! Hold on to your hats: more than 80% of community foundation projects fail before they are founded or within a few years afterwards.

A good community does not fall from the sky...


Why do communities fail?

Sometimes it is due to bureaucracy, finances and systemic violence: an investor snatches away the longed-for plot of land from the group, authorities refuse to grant necessary permits, or there are financing problems.

Sometimes it is due to personal reasons: The founding group falls apart, e.g. because a committed couple separates or no longer has time because of children.

Often it is due to communication problems and disputes in the group. Many groups assume that communal living will somehow work out once the right place is found... but this is not at all self-evident.

So what can community founders do to make the project more likely to succeed? In the following I will go into 9 points. I have been inspired by the Community Compass (which is now also available as a book) as well as by various seminars, talks, books and my own experiences.


Part 1: Here also as audio file! (in German)

1. Growing up & personal responsibility

2. Authentic communication - conscious cultivation of fellowship

3. Intention: Creating clarity about the direction of the project

4. Love and clarity instead of "tolerance"; letting go of guilt

5. Balancing give and take

Part 2: Here the article and here the audio file

6. Consciously design communication and decision-making structures 

7. Consciously deal with hierarchy and power

8. Observe source principles

9. Practice

Part 1


  1. growing up & personal responsibility

Adult, self-responsible behaviour is a basic prerequisite for every true community to succeed. The problem is that the vast majority of people in our society have never learned this! Many are still stuck in shame, guilt and other childish patterns:

The addiction to recognition and affirmation;

the expectation that the community would be responsible for meeting my needs;

  • the inability to clearly express one's own feelings and needs,
  • the idea that I have to "save" or educate others;
  • the idea that others must change in some way,
  • the inability to listen
  • unwillingness to accept or give constructive feedback,
  • the idea that my happiness depends on the behaviour of others, or that others are to blame for my suffering;
  • Deference to authority, defiance or rebellion;
  • Ignoring or avoiding conflicts (or exploding). instead of addressing them directly....
  • and so on and so forth.

Such behaviour patterns are poison for any community, especially if it happens unconsciously and without reflection. That is why so many community-building initiatives fall apart at the very beginning.

That is why I think it is necessary for all those interested in the communal life to commit themselves to consciously dealing with these patterns and to dissolve them step by step.
The other community members can be agreat help in this process, or also external supporters.

Through awareness and the determination to develop together, a bunch of egoists thrown together can turn into a true community!

Otherwise it just remains a "normal" flat-sharing community. Of course, that can also be perfectly fine! It depends on what you want...


2. Authentic communication - conscious cultivation of fellowship

Communicating authentically and genuinely is, in my understanding, a basic condition for any true community!
As indicated above, an individual development process - but one that can be greatly accelerated by communal living.

There are many methods of conscious community care. For example, common rituals or certain conversation formats with certain rules. A conscious culture of communication is helpful: to build trust, to enable openness, to ensure that people listen to each other... in other words, to lay the foundations for authentic togetherness.

For me, an important step towards more authenticity was to practise the attitude of non-violent communication. This helps me to develop more and more empathy and compassion for myself and others and to express myself more and more clearly.
I can only recommend to study and practice it - and in many communities it is very welcome, for good reasons 😀

Many communities take time and money to make appointments with an external facilitator every now, in order to promote their internal communication and togetherness, to strengthen their vision and focus, to set priorities, to optimise their decision-making processes and more.
By now, I can offer such community accompaniment or facilitation of group processes - thanks to my diverse experiences in communities and after various further trainings. If you are interested, please contact me, kontakt@beruehrungs-punkte.info!


3. Intention: to create clarity about the direction of the project

If it is unclear what a community project is supposed to achieve and why, it will tend to attract unclear people with unclear ideasso thatsit gets lost in confusion. The opposite is also true: if the values and intentions of the project are clear, people can easily decide whether their own values and intentions fit in - and whether they want to live there or not. So the project will attract the right people.

Questions like these should be addressed by a community at the very beginning - even before the foundation:

  • What are the values that our community is based on?
  • What do we actually want to achieve and implement together?
  • ...and why?
  • What is everyone willing and able to contribute?
  • What are we committing ourselves to?
  • What are "no-gos" - that is, what would be reasons formembers to leave the project?
  • How do we want to make decisions?

The answers do not have to be set in stone for all time, because the vision of a project changes over time.
But a fundamental discussion about these topics creates clarity: for the founders themselves, who often invest a lot of time and money in the project. And also for interested parties who want to know what they are getting into and whether their vision of life matches that of the community. In this way, the community can attract people who fit in with it, who are pulling in the same direction and who share its goals.


4. Love and clarity instead of "tolerance"; letting go of guilt

Especially in left-wing political circles, there are fashionable ideas going around that everyone should be allowed to take part in everything (no matter their qualification or their behaviour), or that you owe others "tolerance" - even if they behave antisocially.

In my experience, such views have nothing to do with reality. "Taking everyone along" is pure illusion, and instead of "tolerance" I think love makes much more sense.
Here's why: If someone does not want to be taken along, if someone does not want to grow up and take responsability or cannot agree with or apply the values of the community (e.g. willingness to listen, responsible handling of conflicts, contribution to the work at hand, meaningful feedback culture, etc.),  you cannot drag this person along by the hair or drag him along until (s)he corrodes or sabotages the community from within.

Genuine tolerance means to value other peoples' differences. That is of course very important! But in my experience, tolerance is very often misunderstood and can easily turn into silently putting up with destructive behaviour. That is poison for every community.

To put it bluntly:

Silently “tolerating” destructive behaviour is not noble – but rather cowardice and spinelessness. By doing nothing, one becomes partly responsible if the behaviour continues and corrodes the community.
Silent tolerance is not loving for the person concerned, nor for the community - it would merely be a guilt complex.

If you want to live relationally and communally, you can safely throw the concept of "guilt" out the window and replace it with responsibility 😀 (Here's a great article on the difference between guilt and responsibility. )

Many communities have understood this and that is why they have, for example, a probationary period for new members, as well as a clearly defined procedure in case of conflicts. For good reasons 🙂


5. Balance between giving and taking

There is often a lot of work to do in communities, especially in the start-up phase! This requires a good proportion of visionary leaders and "people of action" - as well as people who are inspired by them and join in.
Of course, everyone should be allowed to take a break and pursue their own needs. Of course, communities should find ways to also support people who cannot contribute temporarily or for a longer period of time. But there are enough people who confuse a community with mum and dad,

– expecting the community to meet their needs without making an appropriate contribution. And that, unfortunately, has already disintegrated many communities.

So I think it is important to talk openly in the community about balancing giving and receiving.

  • What do the members need from the community?
  • What does the community need from its members?
  • How are the tasks and financial costs shared?
  • How do you deal with with people who cannot (or do not want to) contribute for a certain time or longer?

Let's continue in the second part... See below.


Part 2

Community success and failure: what are the reasons?


What is important when founding a community? The second part is about decision making, power and responsibility.


There is a lot to learn when founding a community!

I'm glad you've arrived at the second part 😀 ... which, by the way, is also available as an audio recording. (in German)
Here's the first part... which was about growing up, values, "tolerance" and communication.
We continue with the following topics:

6. consciously designing communication and decision-making structures

7. Consciously dealing with hierarchy and power

8. Leadership, responsibility and source principles

9. Practice

6. Consciously designing communication and decision-making structures

Many communities want to create a space that is free of domincation. This means that everyone should be able to have a say in decisions:

everyone’s opinion and needs should be heard equally,

regardless of whether someone is quiet or loud, man or woman or otherwise gender-identified, fat or thin or whatever.

That means that simple majority votes are not really an appropriate option for communities. This is because every majority creates a minority who does not feel heard. This creates simmering conflicts that can easily disintegrate communities.


So how can things work differently?

Many communities practice decision-making by consensus.
This means that a proposal is discussed and changed as many times as necessary until all objections and serious concerns are removed. This way, everyone can then go along with a decision, or at least stand aside without actively opposing it.

In this way, no decisions can be made that harm or ignore people. If somebody is harmed by the decision, the group has to consider how the resulting harm will be balanced so that the affected people can agree.

Sometimes it happens that one or two people block a decision by vetoing it. If this happens for purely selfish or emotional reasons, it can cause resentment and be disruptive. There are several ways to prevent this: For example, communities can oblige these people to seek support and make alternative proposals by a certain date.

Consensus decisions ensure that everyone is heard - but they are not efficient!
If everyone wants to have a say in every decision, a lot of time is lost. That is why larger communities need more efficient models, for example sociocracy or a council system. Here, smaller working groups or councils are elected to which the community delegates certain decisions in a spirit of trust.

Each working group then in turn sends a representative to a steering group or council that coordinates the decisions.

In very large groups (or whole countries), the council system can have one more level.

7. Conscious handling of hierarchy and power

The decision-making structures just mentioned require a conscious approach to social rank and power. This may sound unpopular to some; in left-wing political circles, people apparently want to avoid hierarchy altogether. In that context, some even say "no power for anyone" occurs.


I think the latter is unrealistic and even counterproductive! Because people are different - some have different abilities, more or less courage or self-confidence than others.

To ignore this would mean to disregard people in their individuality, and it would mean to leave everyone powerless. Who would want such a thing?!

Hierarchy and power are neither good nor bad in themselves.

There are two types of hierarchy: the first is the hierarchy of oppression - that is, domination - which subjugates people, controls them and keeps them down. I think we agree that we don't want that.
On the other hand, there are hierarchies of trust, where decisions are made by people who are as capable as possible in their field of work and who enjoy the trust of the community.

This is exactly what is practised (ideally) in sociocracy, as I briefly described above.

Power in itself is also neither good nor bad.

In German, the word "power" is similar to "doing": Someone who has many abilities and self-confidence, and who sees many possibilities and puts them into action, can "do" more than others. So someone like that has "power". Someone who enjoys a lot of trust from others also has a high social standing, because this person is listened to. This is also a form of power.


This means that instead of ignoring the existence of hierarchy and power, it is important for communities to deal with them consciously and transparently.


8. Leadership, responsibility and source principles

The word "leadership" is frowned upon in some circles, especially in Germany. Unfortunately! Because numerous researches and experiences show:
Groups larger than about three to four people need someone to take on some leadership responsibility - at least if the group wants to achieve certain results. You can call this person a facilitator, coordinator, group leader or whatever. If no one fills this role, groups easily get lost in side issues or ego stories.

The point here is NOT that this person should give instructions to the others,or that (s)he must be the one who works the most. 
His/her tasks are rather (also in project meetings):

– To inspire people and to keep up the “spirit”,
– To embody the vision and the values of the project,

– To keep co-creators "on task" so that progress can be made, - to
minimise distractions, - to calm down ego games and dominant people, and to encourage quiet people,
– To make sure that co-creators recognise their own role in the group and make their individual contribution.
– To monitor the progress or development of the project and make sure that things get done.

Some of these tasks can be delegated. The important thing is that there is someone who feels responsible for them.

In this context, it can be very interesting for communities to look
 at the so-called Source Principles. They were compiled by Peter Koenig and are well summarised in this article as well as in this video. In a nutshell, these principles say: Every project has exactly ONE source. The person who starts a project, an organisation or any relationship is its source of this system. This means that he or she bears a great responsibility: because the source has an overview of the project, receives all the relevant information for its design and intuitively knows the next step. The source of a project gives it the vision and the framework. This does not mean that the source has to do or be able to do everything himself, or that he knows everything.

By communicating with co-creators (who are sub-sources in their respective areas) the source gains clarity about decisions. With their support, everyone achieves the goals set.

Things can become difficult if several people found a project together - and if it is not clear who the source is, or if the source does not accept its responsibility, or if co-creators do not accept the source’s decisions and try to take its role. 
All this unfortunately happens quite often.
In those cases, there is a lack of clarity, no clear vision can emerge (or only in a very tough process...), everyone talks past each other, no one has the courage to lead and no one wants to be led... and everyone wonders where all the dissatisfaction comes from!

It is fundamentally important for the success of any project to accept the source’s role – and that the source accepts its own responsibility.
If each person involved also takes responsibility as a “partial source” for their own area of work - and is given the space to do so - the whole project really takes off!

9. Practice

“Practice” includes aspects such as work organisation, joint projects, dealing with money, dealing with neighbours, cooperation with other parties.

Of course, every community does this differently. Questions like these tend to come up:

  • How are regular chores like cooking and cleaning organised?
  • How much is everyone willing to contribute - and how is it dealt with if someone does not do their part?
  • What is everyone willing to commit to voluntarily?
  • Which spaces should be public - which private?
  • How should financial income be generated? From the undertakings of individuals and/or from (a) jointly supported project(s)? What other sources can be considered - e.g. funding?
  • Should people work outside the community, or can the community offer work and income?
  • Should everyone have private income individually - or does all income go into one pot? (I personally find the idea of the "shared economy" very interesting and forward-looking - but it requires some maturity. I wrote something about it in this blog article).
  • And so on.


The community where I have been involved for some time (and which I am presenting here) puts most of the abovementioned points into practice in an exemplary way - that's why I like it there so much 🙂
The community strives for self-sustainability and all members voluntarily commit their time to the vision of the community. Income comes from jointly supported companies, as well as from donations from supporters. All members receive free board and lodging in exchange for their commitment, plus pocket money.
So it's a kind of shared economy (i.e. all income goes into one pot), but you don't have to discuss every private expense with the community: Everyone can decide freely about their own additional expenses.
I like this concept very much.  However, it requires that all members commit voluntarily to common goals.


Certainly there are more aspects that could be considered when founding communities. On the other hand, there also enough examples where people simply start off - without a plan, without a vision, without any idea of how to structure their communication or decision-making processes... and then it just works out that. There is no recipe for that 😉 .

I wish all community projects much success and look forward to receiving feedback on this article 🙂


If you liked this article, please share it!
Questions and comments are also very welcome -
in the comments, by email or Facebook.

Best wishes,
Manuela Kuhar