| n 1978, a woman named Adobe purchased 7.11 acres of land in the country not too far from Tucson, Arizona. She had been living in the city, working as a physical education teacher when she decided to move to the country. Adobe told us that she had no intention of creating a wimmin's land and that the land just came to be. She said she always wanted to live in the country, and once she moved there, she would invite friends from town to come and visit. Word spread about her land and more and more women started visiting Adobeland in the 1980s, especially women from Europe. Adobe said she only advertised once in a magazine called Lesbian Connection, and this ad was picked up by Damron , a travel guide for women. During this time, Adobeland was a more flourishing community with as many as thirty women living and working on the land together. In comparison, ten to fifteen women were living on the land when we visited in Spring 2004, while only six women were there in Spring of 2005. Adobe shared many happy memories of these times during the 1980s and reminisced about the nightly campfires and potluck dinners that the women held. According to Adobe, there was much more of a community feel on the land during these years than in recent years. Adobe said that her land had always been open to all women, and that she believed in the idea of giving all women, even those with a low income, the opportunity to travel and if they desired, to live independently and inexpensively on the land.
Wimmin's Lands/Intentional Communities
One of the women who used to live in Adobeland expressed to us that several of the past residents believe that it was never an intentional community. Over the years, several women have wanted a focus for the community, however, this never came to fruition. This was surprising to us as we originally approached the project assuming Adobeland was an intentional community.
A simple explanation of an intentional community is a group of people who have chosen to live or work together. Those living in an intentional community usually share an overall common vision or goal of how they want to live their lives. For example, some intentional communities support each other's spiritual ideas or political views, while others may have an interest in living an ecological lifestyle or developing a purely social community.
Intentional communities created by and for women have been in development since the 1970s and are often referred to as Wimmin's Lands or Lesbian Lands. The women we met in Adobeland refer to it as a "wimmin's land" instead of "women's lands", such that the term wimmin is not a derivative of patriarchy. A number of these lands exist in the United States and are located in a number of settings including the rural country and near large cities. One of the main reasons for the start up of these lands was the "back to the land movement" in the 1970s. The term "eco-feminists" is used to describe these women who were interested in living a life close to nature. Some of these lands are open to all women, and others are strictly lesbian. Adobeland is open to all women, but the residents are mostly lesbians. Some of what makes Adobeland a unique community is that women have created structures out of natural building materials, including earth, straw, and wood, while also minimizing their energy use by using such technologies as solar panels.
Future of Adobeland
Like any place, it is hard to predict what the future will hold for Adobeland's residents. The number of women living on the land has dramatically declined since the 1980s and many of the women there are dealing with difficulties completely unrelated to the land, such as physical limitations and older age. Events out of their control have also affected these women and caused further concern about the future of this wimmin's land. While we were visiting in Spring 2005, Adobe became so ill, she had to leave her home and land. Saddened that she had to leave her land for an undetermined amount of time, the Adobeland residents have been increasingly concerned about her welfare as well as their own. In her absence, Adobe's family stepped in to make sure the land was maintained and to collect rent, but fears have been on the rise as to whether or not the women can remain on the land. These stresses and vulnerabilities were more than apparent during our second visit to Adobeland and are one of the main reasons why we did not photograph, videotape, or interview the women residents.
To complicate matters, we heard from Adobeland residents that flooding occurred on the land during the Summer of 2005 and that several of the women had moved elsewhere. Significant renovations are required to make Adobeland inhabitable again, since floodwaters destroyed so much of what had been built on the land.
Currently, the land is closed to visitors and new residents and it is unclear what will come of the land. We hope this project will help women to reconnect and share stories about Adobeland, even if they can't physically be there.
We realize that we have not developed a long-term relationship with Adobe, like some of the women living on the land for several years, as we've know her only a short time, but we do treasure the many memorable moments that we shared during our travels to Adobeland. It was clear from the first moment that Adobe greeted us that she was a very warm and special person. She shared not only her life memories and experiences with us, but she took interest in our lives, asking where we were from as well as about our work and educational backgrounds. She apprenticed us in patching adobe, laying foundation, and taught us how to live in the desert, as we were novices. We also will never forget the moment that she took interest in our video camera, and we taught her how to shoot video of us as we laid a square of foundation. She was enthusiastic, and it was contagious, as we were excited to take part in this community named Adobeland.
We thought it would be a good idea to develop a glossary of terms that appear on this website, but which might be unfamiliar to users. It is important to note the alternative spellings of some of these terms, and how these spellings are related to radical feminism and the break from linear and systematic thinking and perceiving. For a more in-depth exploration of these feminist concepts, take a look at Mary Daly's online Wickedary:
herstory - History told or viewed from a female or specifically feminist perspective. This term is especially important to "wimmin" living in opposition to patriarchal systems and ideals.
kivas - The kivas found in Adobeland are structures made out of natural materials, including earth, wood, and water, and situated partially underground. They have an inner support structure and ceilings made out of wood, are inexpensive to build, and maintain a cool temperature even in the Arizona heat.
multiple chemical sensitivities - Also known as MCS. Refers to sensitivities that certain individuals develop to synthetic and natural products. These sensitivities can develop from both low-level and high-level exposure to these products and symptoms can range in type and severity, such that diagnosis is difficult and complex. Many intentional communities have been developed to cater to the needs of this special population.
ramada - An open porch, trellis, or arbor. In the case of Adobeland, the ramada was where women met for meetings, campfires, and meals.
wimmin's lands - Land-based communities where women, many of whom are lesbians, create a separate culture that is in opposition to patriarchal mainstream society. They most often live in a manner that is close to nature and ecologically conscious.