Laurelwood Academy


An amazing opportunity, but also a LOT of work and money required. Current consensus is that we have neither the people nor the funds to acquire and rehabilitate the buildings. Wait and see what happens with auction – if it doesn’t sell, possibly worth a conversation with the sellers.


The Opportunity

The Laurelwood Academy, an historic boarding school about 40 minutes from Portland, OR, is going up for auction on October 4th. With space for between 50 and 100 residents and facilities for all manner of activities, this property has the potential to become an instant intentional community.

We are seeking people to join this project in a variety of capacities. We need enough capital to purchase the property and cover start-up costs, but participation is open even if you have limited or no capital to contribute. Everyone who invests money will either be bought out over time, completely if they are non-residents, or down to a standard share if they are residents. For those without funds to contribute, a “sweat equity” option for covering their share will be available. Decision-making power will be held by resident-owners with input from non-resident-owners.

This property has serious potential for a potentially low enough price-point that it’s certainly worth taking seriously.  The property that we are looking at is 54 acres with 6 very large buildings, most in reasonable condition. The water system is gravity-fed from a local spring and there is a lagoon sewage system, as well as some existing agricultural infrastructure.

  • 2 dormitories
  • A gym/auditorium
  • An administration/classroom building
  • An industrial arts/auto shop
  • A science/home economics building (likely going to need to be gutted due to neglected maintenence)

All told, there is a lot of work, but also a ton of opportunity here.  In addition to the buildings, there is an established orchard with 300+ mature fruit trees, along with existing gardens and a large open area that could be ideal for larger gardens or holding events.

Main property:

There is also an adjacent property of 151 acres that could be maintained as primarily open space, farmed, or split up and developed in other interesting ways for the future of the community.  This secondary property would be unlikely to be part of our purchase unless we have a large amount of investment and interest.

Secondary property:

The Vision

We envision a multi-generational community that is socially enriching, economically thriving, and ecologically sustainable. We see the potential on this property (and have interested/involved parties) for many things, including:

  • Significant food production, involving permaculture, aquaponics and mycology
  • Green and regenerative business incubation
  • Art and play
  • Democratic education and childcare
  • Conferences, events, workshops, healing/retreat center
  • Long-term housing and short-term rentals
  • Working towards goals such as zero waste and net-zero energy

Development of governance, ownership and such is currently occurring, and will be based in democracy and collaboration. Additionally, we are reaching out to area tribal representatives to ensure they are consulted and included in the process, vision, and ownership of the land. Core principles for this community could include:

  • Community Engagement & Personal Responsibility
  • Resilience, Sustainability & Self-Sufficiency
  • Cooperative Governance & Culture
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI)
  • Creativity, Learning, & Innovation

To maintain a vibrant and healthy community, residents will need to meet a variety of responsibilities, including:

  • Active participation in the governance, management, decision-making, and social-culture of the community
  • Contributing financially and with labor on an ongoing basis towards the buy-out of investments, maintenance and upkeep, as well as the fulfillment of the core principles of the community
  • Annual trainings/refreshers in cooperative governance, management & decision-making, facilitation, DEI, conflict resolution, or others as needed
  • Engaging in social hygiene and conflict resolution processes to keep the social fabric of the community strong, and doing the personal work needed for this

Next Steps

Wait and see what happens with the auction. IF the property could be obtained for less than $1.5M at most (preferably much less), there is a possibility that it is worth the time and money required. It would require a sizable investment of both, including substantial renovation or teardown of the science building (including asbestos remediation) and seismic retrofitting of all the buildings, just to start.

Current determination: Money Pit.