Here is some information which I was given by my contact at The Simple Way. I am staying at their Hospitality House–a kind of hostel for visitors. I had no idea there were so many communities in the area. I’m only here until Monday, so I’m not sure how many I will visit–but if I ever come back, I’ll know who to contact! So here is the scoop:
The Village House, which is the original community house located just down the street from the Hospitality House, still retains aspects of an intentional community as there are rhythms of shared life and resources, but you can decide once you arrive and get a sense of community life if it is an example of what you’re looking for. There is also a Catholic Worker house called House of Grace about 2 train stops away, also in Kensington. They run a free clinic. Here’s the info I have for them:
House of Grace Catholic Worker, 1826 E. Lehigh Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19125,
We also have 2 sister communities in the area. One is Camden House, which is right across the river in Camden, NJ. They are affiliated with Sacred Heart Church, so I think the best way to reach them would be to attend Mass on Sunday to make a connection with them.
http://sacredheartcamden.org/ or to contact the parish school (most of the community members work there) and see if you can stop by (I get the sense that they may be open to volunteers coming during the day to help in the classrooms). http://sacredheartschoolcamden.org/
And New Jerusalem is a recovery community in North Philly that started up around the same time that The Simple Way did.
You can also check out the Bruderhof (they have a few communities on the East Coast). http://www.bruderhof.com/
And if you want to take some day trips, NYC and DC are not far. In Brooklyn, there is Radical Living NYC: http://radicalliving.wordpress.com/
and in DC there’s a network of intentional communities: http://www.dc.newmonastics.org/
And you can check out a wider directory of communities here: http://www.communityofcommunities.info/