Abstract: A Community in a Community: Seeking Profit and Understanding, A Case Study of Stelle

Rahima Schwenkbeck


What happens when a commune decides to develop in your town? There were thousands of countercultural communes that formed in the US during the late 60s-early 1970s, with estimates as high as one million Americans participating. The goal of many of these communes was to develop a more idealized community, and a significant percentage set off to largely rural areas to be free of social constraints. However, simply moving into the ‘wilderness’ and making society anew is largely not feasible. This paper examines the various forces communes had to contend with, specifically solvency and local relations, using the community of Stelle as a case study.

Quiet rural communities were typically not enthused about communes entering their region. Members typically kept a low profile since it quickly became apparent that even rural areas were subject to local, state and federal regulations, as well as ever present social mores. The introduction of profitable business was one way that communes were able to gain local acceptance. This paper focuses on the development of Stelle, which pioneered a variety of environmentally friendly technologies and community services. This allowed them to fulfil the goals of their beliefs, become financially solvent and gain local acceptance.