Some of the coolest people I've met here in the SF Bay Area, leading the way in pioneering online and real-world community, turned out to come from experience in community/communal living at the Farm and elsewhere.
Some alternative views on the Farm's history shows up in the WIthin Reach movie and the forthcoming "40 Years on the Farm," as well as last year's "Birth Story."
In my work helping people organize cohousing neighborhoods that will persist through changes in leadership and serving members at all phases of life, I've found certain patterns that keep showing up. Finding the right balance of privacy and community is one of these; providing easy exits and market leverage (i.e. access to conventional mortgage financing by working with the system enough to be treated like any other condo) is another - although this approach needs to be balanced with creative approaches to promote financial diversity and access.
Many key elements of this social/communications/group leadership "Pattern Language" is reflected in the Group Works card deck and the Group Pattern Language Project, a CC-licensed open source collaborative venture of community facilitators that created it. If you build a community culture that makes it easy for people to care for one another, everything gets easier, including going beyond what seems possible with the ordinary tools at hand.
PS Did Vanity Fair get Boing'd? Pages are currently unreachable w/multi redirects. Once they're back up, here's a 2007 piece they ran on the Farm.