San Patriagano

The community dining hall at San Patrignano, Italy, an intentional community for those struggling with addiction.

Updated May 4, 2020

An analysis of intentional communities by the Riverview Village Project illustrates the power of community in helping those with a mental or developmental disability, and reinforces the group’s proposal for an intentional community for the seriously mentally ill on the Riverview Lands.

The document, “Intentional communities with therapeutic or developmental objectives,” covers seven different communities: Geel, Belgium and Gould Farm in Massachusetts for the seriously mentally ill, L’Arche and Camphill Communities for those with a developmental disability, San Patrignano in Italy and Delancey Street in San Francisco for those struggling with addiction, and De Hogeweyk, a specially designed village for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia, in Weesp, Netherlands. L’Arche and Camphill Communities in turn have many communities around the world (over a hundred in each case), while Delancey Street has facilities in five other U.S. locations in addition to its home base in San Francisco.

While not all of the examples are for those with a mental illness, they all have applicable aspects, in particular with regard to the Project’s central idea for Riverview, an “intentional community,” that is, a community created specifically to help those with a serious mental illness and allow them to flourish.

The analysis, as well as describing the different communities in its survey, explores the various themes in common, such as innovation, intentionality, inclusion and welcoming, the benefits of integration with others and of meaningful work, and what ultimately counts the most, the appreciation of everyone’s humanity.

See the document for more detail and for resources, including videos on some of the communities covered.