In The World But Not Of It
The Hutterites, anabaptists whose roots trace back to the 16th Century Reformation, live communally on colonies throughout western Canada and the north-western United States. Their culture continues to be preserved through deliberate separation from mainstream society and economic self-sufficiency. The Hutterites are currently in the midst of one of the most successful periods of their approximately 500 year history. Members are provided for throughout their entire lives, and on the whole experience less of the loneliness and isolation prevalent in the modern world. Their belief in the importance of 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; areas where health, happiness and life expectancy rates are higher than average. The Hutterites believe that their separation from society offers them a better way to God, but the system also provides lessons in connection we can all learn from; connections to each other and the environment around us. Despite the pressures of the outside world, the Hutterites continue to be the most successful model for communal living in modern western history. Each colony must decide how rigidly they cling to their traditions versus how much they adapt to the increasingly connected outside world. 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.”
Tim Smith is a Manitoba based photographer that has spent fifteen years documenting life on the Prairies, including thirteen years photographing the Hutterites; insular Anabaptists that live communally on colonies in Canada and the United States. His work is among the broadest and most extensive visual documentations of their culture ever produced. In addition to long-term documentary work, he covers assignments for a variety of editorial and commercial clients in the Prairies and occasionally further away. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines worldwide and exhibited in Canada, Europe and the United States.