Visiting the Magic Intentional Community

Thank you for you inter­est in Magic’s res­i­den­tial ser­vice-learn­ing com­mu­ni­ty. Our pur­pose here is to explain what we’re aim­ing to do and be here, and why, and to guide you in mak­ing your stay enjoy­able for all of us.

Since 1979, we have opened Mag­ic to more than sev­er­al hun­dred dif­fer­ent overnight guests, and to more sev­er­al more thou­sand indi­vid­u­als who came to share food and con­ver­sa­tion, or to par­tic­i­pate in edu­ca­tion­al, pub­lic ser­vice activ­i­ties spon­sored by the pub­lic ser­vice orga­ni­za­tion with which we are affil­i­at­ed, and with which we share our name. On the basis of these expe­ri­ences we have assem­bled the fol­low­ing infor­ma­tion and guide­lines to enable vis­i­tors to be here in a way that is enjoy­able for you and for us.

Please read care­ful­ly what we have writ­ten here, and be con­sci­en­tious in coop­er­at­ing with oth­ers here dur­ing your stay. If you have ques­tions, please ask your host or host­ess to explain or clarify.

We hope that you will find us good com­pa­ny. Thought­ful guests have con­tributed to our lives in count­less ways, and welook for­ward to each new vis­i­tor with pleasure.

How We Are

We gen­er­ate our com­mu­ni­ty from shared val­ues. In this sec­tion we describe some of the ideas we hold in com­mon, which serve as the foun­da­tion for our ven­ture; we out­line our orga­ni­za­tion­al frame­work and our ways of mak­ing deci­sions togeth­er; and we dis­cuss some ele­ments of dai­ly life here which we con­sid­er to be of cen­tral importance.


We live togeth­er so that we may more eas­i­ly devel­op deep friend­ships with each oth­er. We seek such close­ness because we rec­og­nize that each of us has uncrit­i­cal­ly and even uncon­scious­ly accu­mu­lat­ed many ways of being, and we want each other’s assis­tance in becom­ing more aware. We prac­tice observ­ing our­selves, each oth­er, and the world around us to see afresh, and com­mu­ni­cat­ing our per­cep­tions hon­est­ly, open­ly, and with care.

We con­sid­er liv­ing and dying to be con­tem­po­ra­ne­ous process­es, begin­ning at birth and end­ing at death. To learn to enjoy these ful­ly, we are seek­ing a bal­ance between atten­tion to mate­r­i­al needs and desires, and accep­tance of the inevitabil­i­ty that we will cease to exist as the indi­vid­ual peo­ple we are today. We share a sense that we may more ful­ly real­ize our own poten­tial by devot­ing our lives to improv­ing the well-being of humankind.

We some­times speak of sci­ence and lov­ing as the cen­tral themes of our lives togeth­er. We use the word ‘sci­ence’ in a very basic sense, to refer to the cycle of won­der­ing, observ­ing, rea­son­ing, and test­ing by which vir­tu­al­ly all humans and many oth­er ani­mals learn from experience.

To adapt suc­cess­ful­ly, humans will main­tain a close fit between our own ways of being and the qual­i­ties of the rapid­ly chang­ing envi­ron­ment in which we live. We view the prac­tice of sci­ence, by which we mean any behav­ior by which we gain abil­i­ty to pre­dict with bet­ter-than-ran­dom accu­ra­cy, to be unpar­al­leled as a means to live well. As we learn to see our sit­u­a­tion more clear­ly, and become bet­ter able to fore­see the con­se­quences of our acts, we increase our mean­ing­ful choic­es, our free­dom, and our capac­i­ty for con­scious evolution. 

Lov­ing is anoth­er word which peo­ple define in wide­ly dif­fer­ent ways. When the res­i­dents of Mag­ic talk of lov­ing, we mean search­ing for com­mon inter­ests and act­ing to fur­ther them. We ques­tion often how to bal­ance our own desires and those of oth­ers. What is fair? Or good? Or adap­tive in an evo­lu­tion­ary sense? By liv­ing so close­ly with each oth­er, we are dis­cov­er­ing how much we are all alike. We are learn­ing to trust each oth­er. We are find­ing that we enjoy some­times think­ing of our ‘selves’ in ways that include oth­er peo­ple, oth­er life, and even the Earth.

We aim to evi­dence our grow­ing love by meet­ing our mate­r­i­al needs ever more mod­est­ly, and by devot­ing ever-increas­ing atten­tion to car­ing for each oth­er, for peo­ple beyond our house­hold, and for both the biot­ic and abi­ot­ic com­po­nents of the envi­ron­ment on which all of us rely for our well-being. As we enlarge our sphere of inter­est, we become bet­ter able to enjoy our liv­ing and dying.


Our com­mu­ni­ty is affil­i­at­ed with Mag­ic, a pub­lic ser­vice cor­po­ra­tion char­tered to study and teach human ecol­o­gy, the sci­en­tif­ic inves­ti­ga­tion of inter­ac­tions among humans, and between humans and the rest of the envi­ron­ment. Peo­ple mak­ing Mag­ic spon­sor activ­i­ties aimed at demon­strat­ing how the meth­ods and prin­ci­ples of ecol­o­gy may be applied to improve the qual­i­ty of human life. Our inten­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty is one such undertaking.

The land, the build­ings, and much of the fur­nish­ings and equip­ment here are owned by the cor­po­ra­tion. Indi­vid­ual res­i­dents hold vary­ing amounts and types of wealth pri­vate­ly. Var­i­ous indi­vid­u­als among us have entered into a wide range of agree­ments for shar­ing the risks and rewards of liv­ing. All res­i­dents con­tribute mon­ey or labor at about the pre­vail­ing mar­ket rate to sup­port the oper­a­tion of the house­hold, and all of us also give at least ten per­cent of our income or two hun­dred hours of vol­un­teer ser­vice each year to sus­tain the corporation’s oth­er pub­lic ser­vice projects.

Pri­or to becom­ing a res­i­dent peo­ple usu­al­ly work with Mag­ic for a year or more. Typ­i­cal­ly, res­i­dents remain for any­where from a few years to decades.

We are an egal­i­tar­i­an com­mu­ni­ty, pro­ceed­ing from the fun­da­men­tal premise that each of us is wor­thy of respect and con­sid­er­a­tion. We prac­tice deci­sion-mak­ing with allowances for each person’s spe­cial com­pe­tence, past con­tri­bu­tion, and com­mit­ment into the future.

A num­ber of us serve the com­mu­ni­ty in spe­cial roles. These include Res­i­dent Fel­low, House Man­ag­er, Food Ser­vice Man­ag­er, and oth­ers which we cre­ate from time to time as we see fit. Res­i­dent fel­lows serve as the inter­face between our com­mu­ni­ty and the Board of Direc­tors of Mag­ic. They are respon­si­ble for main­tain­ing clear com­mu­ni­ca­tion between the board mem­bers and the res­i­dents, and for assist­ing the res­i­dents in ensur­ing that our com­mu­ni­ty com­plies with the rules and reg­u­la­tions gov­ern­ing non-prof­it, pub­lic ben­e­fit orga­ni­za­tions. We cur­rent­ly oper­ate with a sin­gle res­i­dent fel­low. The var­i­ous man­agers coor­di­nate oth­er res­i­dents and guests in keep­ing the house­hold run­ning smooth­ly. All of us aim to sup­port those who have shoul­dered the respon­si­bil­i­ties of fel­low or man­ag­er roles.

We enjoy extend­ing hos­pi­tal­i­ty to guests. Each new per­son brings unique gifts to us, and we aim to pro­vide good val­ue to our vis­i­tors in return. Our guests have includ­ed peo­ple of all ages, from a vari­ety of back­grounds, from around the Unit­ed States and the world. We ask prospec­tive vis­i­tors to con­tact us in advance, even if that means just call­ing from near­by before show­ing up at the door. After ini­tial inter­ac­tion by let­ter, e‑mail, or phone, we decide whether we feel com­fort­able offer­ing a guest a night’s hos­pi­tal­i­ty. We con­sid­er and com­mit to longer stays in grad­u­al­ly larg­er incre­ments. In rare instances, guests have remained for more than a year. Many have returned repeatedly.


We have tak­en to heart Thoreau’s admo­ni­tion to “high think­ing and plain liv­ing.” We are per­sis­tent ques­tion­ers, hold­ing ideas open to revi­sion. We repeat­ed­ly ask: “To what pur­pos­es do we live?” “By what actions may we fur­ther them?” and “On what bases do we decide these things?” We are hon­ing our skills of obser­va­tion and rea­son­ing, and we are con­stant­ly test­ing ideas in prac­tice. Peo­ple who are eager to ques­tion, observe, rea­son, and exper­i­ment with us are often enthu­si­as­tic about their stays here.

Most of us have adopt­ed a fair­ly reg­u­lar dai­ly pat­tern: sleep eight or nine hours each night, work dur­ing nor­mal busi­ness hours, come togeth­er each evening for sup­per. When the days are long some of us shift our pat­terns to exer­cise out-of-doors after sun­set and avoid UV dam­age. We dress and groom sim­ply and we have fur­nished our home sim­i­lar­ly. We eat sim­ple, nour­ish­ing food. Most of us engage in aer­o­bic exer­cise, like run­ning, swim­ming, or cycling for about an hour each day.

We are wary of addiction—habitual mal­adap­tive behavior—of all kinds. We are very care­ful with psy­choac­tive sub­stances, includ­ing even things like wine, beer, cof­fee, and tea. To pro­tect Mag­ic and the res­i­dents here from legal dif­fi­cul­ty we require that any who store or use ille­gal sub­stances do so off this site.

We often lis­ten to music. We dance a lot, sing a bit, and some of us play musi­cal instru­ments. Though we have our moments of rau­cous­ness and exu­ber­ance, we gen­er­al­ly main­tain an atmos­phere of calm and rel­a­tive quiet.

We are very mod­est con­sumers by the stan­dards of the com­mu­ni­ty in which we live, rarely eat­ing in restau­rants, buy­ing new things of any kind, pur­chas­ing pro­fes­sion­al ser­vices, or even trav­el­ing in motor vehi­cles. We trav­el pri­mar­i­ly by walk­ing or bicy­cling, even over dis­tances mea­sured in tens of miles.

We aim to set a pos­i­tive exam­ple by shar­ing space and equip­ment in a fru­gal, con­vivial way. Typ­i­cal­ly eight or more of us are in res­i­dence. With less than two thou­sand square feet of build­ings, includ­ing garage, green­house, sheds, et cetera, we live at a den­si­ty high­er than many U.S. res­i­dents do. We man­age this by sub­sti­tut­ing con­sid­er­a­tion and self-rev­e­la­tion for space.

We devote sub­stan­tial life to learn­ing about each oth­er. At least once each week we gath­er for three hours or so to lis­ten and talk. Each cal­en­dar quar­ter we set aside a day or more to plan and review togeth­er. Day-to-day we inter­act one-on-one and in small groups to strength­en the fab­ric of our com­mu­ni­ty. Though we are gen­tle peo­ple, we are spir­it­ed in con­ver­sa­tion, and ded­i­cat­ed to our ven­ture. We move quick­ly to per­son­al and heart­felt topics.

Over the years we have become con­vinced that we enjoy more free­dom when we are neat, order­ly, and clean. Peo­ple who vis­it here are often sur­prised by our atten­tion to these qualities.

Cur­rent­ly sev­er­al of us make lit­tle dis­tinc­tion between home and office, work and play. Although we enjoy what many con­sid­er unusu­al free­dom in choos­ing what we do, and when, we are dis­ci­plined in our lives, and respect­ful of each other’s desires for pri­va­cy and qui­et while engaged in activ­i­ties requir­ing concentration.

In sum­ma­ry, we are an unusu­al hybrid, with ele­ments of school, fam­i­ly, monastery, and non-prof­it ven­ture oper­at­ed by a group of agnos­tic, free­dom-lov­ing, order­ly, intel­lec­tu­al ani­mals. If you like the sounds of this, we hope you’ll give us a chance to meet you.

What We Ask of You

Some­times as we read this sec­tion, we think, “We sure are
par­tic­u­lar. I hope peo­ple will still want to come.” Then we remem­ber that this is how we enjoy liv­ing. What you read here is the bare min­i­mum we aim to offer each oth­er. If you think you will appre­ci­ate liv­ing in these ways, and feel enriched by the oppor­tu­ni­ty to be with oth­ers who do, we will be pleased to invite you into our home. We hope what fol­lows will seem easy and nat­ur­al to you.

In General

Make arrange­ments in advance. If you arrive unan­nounced, be pre­pared to be asked to return at anoth­er time, or to join us in what we are doing, or to fend for your­self with what­ev­er we offer.

In your ini­tial tele­phone, let­ter, or e‑mail con­tact, tell us your pur­pose in request­ing to vis­it. We live with con­scious inten­tion to dis­cern and to fur­ther com­mon inter­ests and we want to know what you and we are intend­ing together.

Where prac­ti­cal, please plan to vis­it first at lunchtime or din­ner­time, or to par­tic­i­pate in a spe­cif­ic sched­uled event. In the spir­it of a pub­lic ser­vice orga­ni­za­tion, we com­mon­ly offer a meal and/or pro­gram activ­i­ty as gifts to those who seek to learn more about Mag­ic. You may con­tribute some­thing to make such oppor­tu­ni­ties avail­able to those who fol­low you, and we are grate­ful when you do.

Be sen­si­tive to our pat­terns. As you read this pam­phlet you may note dif­fer­ences between your usu­al ways of liv­ing and ours. Please be atten­tive to those aspects of your being, and approach us with respect for the stan­dards we have cho­sen for our­selves. We are open to change, and are steadi­ly chang­ing, but after more than twen­ty years mak­ing Mag­ic, we have sub­stan­tial momen­tum, and we appre­ci­ate those who learn our way, and expe­ri­ence it ful­ly with us, before urg­ing us to accept some oth­er way here.

Specific Things to Remember

We thank you for respect­ing the fol­low­ing conventions:

  • respect oth­ers’ desire for qui­et: close doors and gate gen­tly; talk only to peo­ple in the same room as you; ask the oth­ers in a room before turn­ing on a stereo; avoid mak­ing sounds which may dis­turb those who have gone to bed or are writ­ing, read­ing, meet­ing, med­i­tat­ing, etc.; refrain from meal­time con­ver­sa­tions which make simul­ta­ne­ous con­ver­sa­tion among oth­ers in the room difficult
  • con­serve nat­ur­al resources: short­en show­ers; turn off appli­ances and lights as soon as you fin­ish using them; dress up or down rather than using the fur­nace, a heater, or some mechan­i­cal cool­ing device; oper­ate doors, win­dows, and shades to enhance pas­sive solar heat­ing and ventilation
  • pick up after your­self: keep per­son­al belong­ings oth­er than those you are using at a giv­en moment out of the com­mon spaces (liv­ing room, library, kitchen, offices, bath­room, halls, porch, offices, garage work­shop, patio, and front and back yards); if you bring any­thing onto the site, find out where to store it, and put it there direct­ly; put away oth­er items as soon as you stop using them
  • avoid track­ing dirt around: clean or remove shoes before enter­ing the house; if you go bare­foot in the house, keep your feet clean; when you’re in the house, keep your hands clean
  • if you dam­age or break some­thing, or dis­cov­er some­thing dam­aged or bro­ken, tell your host or host­ess, or in their absence, ask anoth­er res­i­dent how to proceed
  • park bicy­cle or motor vehi­cle in the spot des­ig­nat­ed for you
  • keep all ille­gal items and sub­stances off the prop­er­ty; smoke off the prop­er­ty; con­sult your host or host­ess before bring­ing alco­hol onto the property
  • doing laun­dry: learn laun­dry pro­to­cols and sched­ules before using machines; wash your own sheets and tow­els on the last day of your stay, if possible
  • in the bath­room: sit to pee regard­less of your gen­der; leave toi­let clean (brush under sink; a sec­ond flush is some­times nec­es­sary); run exhaust fan when show­er­ing or defe­cat­ing; wipe water from floor (cloth on rack on left side of sink cab­i­net); wipe water from counter and wall (cloth on rack on right side of sink cab­i­net); avoid splash­ing or spray­ing mir­ror; remove hair from sink and show­er and place in trash; use the soap and sham­poo in the show­er stall, and the soap on the counter by the sink if you like; keep per­son­al care prod­ucts in the stor­age area assigned you; brush and cut hair out-of-doors when prac­ti­cal; deposit used san­i­tary nap­kins, tam­pons, or oth­er prod­ucts (oth­er than toi­let paper) con­tain­ing body flu­ids or waste neat­ly in waste­bas­ket, or place them direct­ly into con­tain­er marked ‘trash’ in recy­cling area adja­cent to dri­ve­way; place fresh roll (from cab­i­net beneath sink) in toi­let paper dis­penser if you use the last; remem­ber that we flush urine only occa­sion­al­ly and reduce the like­li­hood of pipe block­age by using toi­let paper sparingly
  • in the kitchen: wash your hands before open­ing the fridge or the cup­boards, or serv­ing your­self din­ner; clean table and coun­ters after using them; spot-clean floor before leav­ing (rag on rack of right door beneath sink); wash dish­es and uten­sils thor­ough­ly, using soap, sponge, and abra­sives as nec­es­sary to make them sparkle; avoid spilling down sides of con­tain­ers; imme­di­ate­ly clean up spills (sponge above sink); inform a res­i­dent if you use the last of any food stored in a con­tain­er; use counter space fru­gal­ly to leave room for oth­ers; keep crumbs off the floor or sweep before you leave; wipe the fridge and cup­board doors if you’ve dirt­ied them; replace food con­tain­ers, uten­sils, and equip­ment where you found them; ask your host or host­ess where to store food items you bring; be sen­si­tive to the num­ber of peo­ple who will be shar­ing food
  • in the offices: wash your hands before using com­put­ers, files, or library mate­ri­als; ask before putting any non-Mag­ic disk in a com­put­er; ask before access­ing any on-line ser­vice or oth­er remote facil­i­ty from a Mag­ic com­put­er; refrain from remov­ing any mate­ri­als from the room where they are stored; learn the file access pro­to­cols before enter­ing files; learn the library pro­to­col before pulling books from shelves; leave all sup­plies and equip­ment in the place you found them.

A Fair Share

Each of us gives about one or two hours per day to keep­ing the house clean and neat, and the gar­den healthy, and to feed­ing the peo­ple here. If you will be here for even a few hours, we ask that you share these respon­si­bil­i­ties with us. Some read­i­ly avail­able oppor­tu­ni­ties are food pro­cess­ing, meal prepa­ra­tion and cleanup, gen­er­al house­clean­ing, and run­ning errands. These tasks require min­i­mal expla­na­tion from one of us, so your net ser­vice can be great. If you have a spe­cial skill or resource that you think can ben­e­fit those who share this house­hold, or those whom we serve, please offer.

We are reduc­ing our depen­dence on com­mer­cial trans­ac­tions. Cur­rent­ly our evo­lu­tion along this path is less than com­plete: we exchange mon­ey for food, mate­ri­als relat­ed to house­hold main­te­nance, books, equip­ment and fur­nish­ings, teach­ing aids, postage and print­ing, trans­porta­tion, med­ical care, insur­ance, tax­es, util­i­ties, and telephone.

As a guest you will ben­e­fit from util­i­ties ser­vices like water, elec­tric­i­ty, and refuse col­lec­tion. You will be pro­tect­ed by pub­lic ser­vices like police, which we sup­port with our prop­er­ty tax­es. You will find safe­ty and com­fort in our yards, our build­ings, and their fur­nish­ings. And you will very like­ly enjoy one or more meals with us. Each of us con­tributes about $70 per day to sus­tain these aspects of our com­mu­ni­ty. We some­times offer work exchange to guests whose skills are applic­a­ble here and whose work­ing styles are com­pat­i­ble with our own.

In the spir­it of a pub­lic ser­vice orga­ni­za­tion, we com­mon­ly offer sup­per and a night’s lodg­ing as a gift to those who seek to learn more about Mag­ic. You may con­tribute some­thing to make such oppor­tu­ni­ties avail­able to those who fol­low you, and we are grate­ful when you do. If you con­tem­plate a longer stay, please dis­cuss with your host or host­ess how you will sup­port Mag­ic so that both you and we will feel enriched for hav­ing lived togeth­er here.

An Invitation

We at Mag­ic are joined in the pur­pose of demon­strat­ing how peo­ple can become health­i­er and more aware, how we may coop­er­ate more effec­tive­ly to fur­ther com­mon inter­ests, and how we may pro­tect and restore the envi­ron­men­tal qual­i­ties on which life depends. this home is a base from which we serve.

You can con­tribute to the sta­bil­i­ty and strength of our com­mu­ni­ty, and to the qual­i­ty and quan­ti­ty of our pro­grams for ben­e­fit of the gen­er­al pub­lic, by vis­it­ing us with the inten­tion of leavng Mag­ic stronger than you found it. Thank you for your con­sid­er­a­tion. We look for­ward to learn­ing, and lov­ing, and laugh­ing with you.