Welcome! My name is Julian Collette and I am currently studying the Christian monastic tradition at Saint John’s School of Theology•Seminary in Collegeville, Minnesota. Please read the “About” page to learn more about me and this project. For now, a brief introduction: I am planning to make a fourteen month (or so) bicycle-camping tour of the United States, scheduled to begin the first week of June, 2011. Over the course of the tour, I intend to visit approximately fifty intentional communities and conduct interviews with community members and others involved in the intentional communities movement. Though primarily focusing on Christian communities, I will also include some non-Christian communities and perspectives to provide a wider context.
Presently, I am doing much work in preparing, with a class devoted to developing research questions and methods. Since mere descriptive documentation is superfluous in the age of the internet (most communities already have their own websites, after all), I want to follow lines of inquiry that will yield a meaningful contribution to communities and to the burgeoning interest in many Christian circles in communal living. Additionally, while I am still here at Saint John’s, I will take advantage of my proximity to two monasteries, two universities, a theological school and seminary, and an ecumenical institute—I will ply the minds of several resident scholars, monks, and nuns and make the resulting interviews available on this site before I leave. The content of these interviews will focus on providing some historical context for the conversations to follow, addressing such topics as:
- The diversity of ascetical, communal living in early Christianity before this diversity was consolidated into institutional forms of the monastic movement, and what this early diversity has to say to contemporary Christian communities.
- Reform and seeds of change in traditional Christian communities over the past century, especially following Vatican II.
- Lay evangelical communities, both pre- and post-Protestant Reformation, and their relationship to the institutional churches and traditional religious communities, especially as this relationship is shifting in contemporary movements such as the ‘New Monasticism.’
- The intentional communities movement in the United States past and present, Christian and non-Christian.
Preparation will also include fundraising, networking, making connections with communities, planning a loose itinerary for the tour, and of course, physical training. While I am a seasoned bicycle tourer, I am not exactly at the peak of physical condition at the moment!
I would like to share my heartfelt gratitude for so many of you who’ve offered support, encouragement, and thoughtful conversation, helping to make this summer’s daydream an emerging reality: Ryan Mlynarczyk and Mandy Creighton of Within Reach for the inspiration, Dr. Kathleen Cahalan, Grace Ellens, S. Kathryn Casper, OSB, S. Mary Forman, OSB, Dr. Bill Cahoy, the Leighton and Rosha families, Laird Schaub and the Fellowship for Intentional Community, Dr. Ivan Kauffman, tech-savvy Audrey Seah, and many others besides. I am deeply grateful to all of you and look forward to your continuing to accompany me on the way.
Please do not be concerned if I don’t write many posts in the next couple of months. I will be working mostly behind the scenes until I leave. At the same time, I value your input, comments, and questions, and hope that this website will become a rich forum for conversation and dialog. So please share your thoughts, either by email or by commenting on these posts. I also encourage you to sign up to receive email notifications, make a contribution if you feel so moved, and spread the word!
Thank you, and stay tuned…