Faculty Advisor

Gardner, Andrew


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Area of Study

Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Publication Date

Summer 2020


My name is Maya and I am a rising senior, studying Sociology and Anthropology. This summer I received an AHSS summer research grant from the University to conduct a project revolving around intentional communities. When I applied for the grant, I proposed a sustained, ethnographic project as the best fitting research for my topic. This was going to include staying for multiple weeks with 2-3 intentional communities. The pandemic altered the fieldwork component of my project greatly, as these longer term stays were not possible. However, I was able to do socially distant interviews and tours at two intentional communities, and I connected with others online. In such an unprecedented experience, I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of contact I made with intentional community members, and their willingness to work with me in an adverse environment. Additionally, the alterations in my research allowed me to hone in on pre existing scholarly work on my topic, and develop a strong foundation of knowledge to navigate creating a question and conducting field research.

The question I explored through my research was, what are the practical and ideological components of intentional communities that allow them to remain connected in the contemporary world? This question guided me in observing and examining both the practical, everyday structures and ideological foundations that create cohesion in intentional communities. I engaged primarily with two intentional communities in Washington state, Salmon Beach and River Farm. I made several additional contacts with community members in other states and one in Israel as well. Salmon Beach is a land based and historical community that consists of 82 stilted homes over the Puget Sound. River farm is also a land based, agricultural and environmental community in Whatcom county, WA. Both of these communities have physical and social infrastructure that influence their togetherness.


Summer Research


University of Puget Sound

Maya Gilliam AHSS 2020.mp3 (29043 kB)
All Things Intentional Podcast Audio Recording