I’m excited about changes I see in the culture – ways in which we’re moving towards more togetherness, more natural-ness, more simplicity. A focus on relationships and experiences and not ‘stuff’. I saw on one of my news sources online that “the era of McMansions is over.” What a relief!
I wrote awhile back about cohousing – a big focus for me and my intent for my living situation a few years hence (my cohorts and I have to complete our current work situations).
Walking back from feeding the cats of my beloved neighbors Pete & Julie this morning, I was thinking how I don’t really have to wait for all the things I want to see happen – I can (and in many ways, have) begin now.
I’m so blessed that within 2 very short blocks of me there are 2 wonderful families who share many of my values. There may well be more, but these families are the ones I am blessed to call friends, not just neighbors. There’s a third family – kitty corner from me – that I don’t yet know well, but who are also like-minded souls.
We’ve already begun in some ways. When my friend Bill brings me lush produce from his garden – more than even a fruit/veggie girl like I can eat, I share with Pete & Julie or Lisa & Jon. We watch one another’s pets when we’re away. We have shared chores together (including an incredible day of landscaping my yard – not sure I can ever repay on that one!).
I emailed them recently and said that in the spring I am going to get some rain barrels but also a clothesline – and that we could all use the clothesline. Pete & I have talked about buying one snowblower to use between them, me and their neighbors David & Katia. We very often share tools. I’d like to say we share expertise but I think I’m often the recipient of expertise 🙂 .
When the store has a ‘buy one, get one free’ I always get the free one – knowing I can just share it with my peeps.
For awhile I had a monthly ‘salon’ – a gathering of people to share ideas with. Given everyone’s crazy busy schedule it sort of faded away, but I liked that part, too – sharing ideas. Julie, Lisa, my friend Bill and I watched Obama’s inauguration together. Pete brought his children over (Julie was out) to watch some of the presidential debates.
We are friends & neighbors but we can incorporate more ‘living lightly on the earth AND forging deeper connections’ opportunities.
Some of the things I’m wanting to explore:
- Cooking parties – get together, make vats of food and split up – have fun doing it and get different things for all 4 families
- Canning – my friend Bill and Lisa both garden a lot – it would be fun to all learn how to put up some of their food
- More tool-sharing. My drill died and I have been looking at them at Home Depot – given that I use a drill maybe once a year, do I really want to pay $100 for a cordless drill (more for the fancy DeWalt or Ryobi ones…) or is this a borrowable tool? I have a toolroom full of tools that never get used – couldn’t my friends/neighbors use those instead of buying them?
- Stuff exchange – “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” – why not give one another first dibs on stuff we’re giving away
- Help exchange – I am quite inept at home repairs, but pretty good at babysitting – we all have things we can contribute to one another’s well-being – I’d like to do more of that
- Big stuff – I’ve envisioned putting up a big solar panel at the end of our dead-end street (faces south with no obstructions) and have a way for Pete & Julie, David & Katia and maybe even my next door neighbor Steven & I all tap into it. I have no idea if this is practical, but it seems neat
- More idea-sharing. I heard a great show on www.wpr.org yesterday about a book called Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, Updated and Expanded – about landscaping with less grass, more natural plants. Julie is a trained landscape architect and Lisa is a passionate gardener – I’d love to noodle around with them about that. David & Katia already put in rain barrels – I want to ask them about how that’s working for them.
What if, instead of trying to impress our neighbors, or pretending they weren’t there, what if we chose cooperation and mutual well-being. Karl Marx, like Jesus, had good ideas that got twisted by his proponents for their own ends. I like Marx’s idea “from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs.” And I REALLY like the idea of living more simply, more cooperatively and more in communion with one another.
So — what does this sound like to you? Do you have any such desires? How are you living more cooperatively? Do you wish to? How? I really want to know!