In the World but Not of it

The Hutterites, pacifist Anabaptists whose roots trace back to the 16th Century Reformation, live communally in colonies throughout western Canada and the northwestern United States. Their culture continues to be preserved through deliberate separation from mainstream society and economic self-sufficiency. Despite a history of persecution, the Hutterites are one of the most successful models for communal living in modern history.

Hutterites are provided for throughout their lives and, on the whole, experience less of the loneliness and isolation prevalent in the modern world. The importance given to engagement in family life, social life and spirituality, and the defined purpose for their lives, means Hutterite communities meet many of the requirements to be considered Blue Zones. Health, happiness and life expectancy rates are higher than average in these areas. Colonies are kept small, typically under 200 people, to maintain strong social connections, and the emphasis is on the community as a whole rather than any individual.

Hutterite culture is often either romanticized or denigrated as simple or backwards. The reality is that their society is very complex. Each colony must decide how rigidly they cling to their traditions versus how much they adapt to the increasingly connected outside world. The group as a whole unofficially polices conformity to the larger group. The Minister is burdened with ensuring the colony stays on a path to godliness rather than worldliness. As Hutterite author Paul S. Gross wrote, “We cannot please the world and God at the same time … Either we take this world with all it offers, including trouble, mental stress, sorrow, and death at the end; or else we take a better way.”

Beginning with a chance encounter in 2009, Tim Smith has been photographing Hutterite communities in Manitoba for 14 years.

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Xposure hosts solo exhibition spaces for acclaimed photographers along with group exhibitions for professional institutions. All exhibiting photographers will be present during the festival, enabling you the opportunity to meet and talk to them about their work.