For a while now, I've been wanting something; I've had the idea in my head for a family/friend block in my neighborhood.
It started at our last house. We were one of three apartments off of one interior hallway with three more accessible from outside. Beyond these walls, we had friends in many houses on our block. It was a really great community.
We'd lived in plenty of apartment complexes where we were in close proximity to many people, but we'd never gotten to know any of them. I think that without Girly, this house and neighborhood would likely have followed that same pattern. We had to get out and walk her a few times a day; couple that with a unique looking dog who also loved people and it's no wonder we met most of our neighbors.
Once or twice a year, we'd block off the ends of our block and gather for a block party (friends, family, and people from other blocks were certainly welcome, our block generally were just the instigators), which really was a wonderful way to meet new neighbors and get to know the existing ones even better.
Throughout this time, I had visions in my head of all the neighbors on the block, clearing out the overgrown alleyway and opening up all the backyards, forming one large community space for gathering, gardening, and playing. A place where we could all hang out, cook and eat together as schedules allowed, but still give everyone the private space we all still need.
In the past month or so, I stumbled across a Reddit post (it was simply someone posting a bed-frame they built) which led me to basically what I've been seeking: Intentional Communities and Cohousing Communities. The Fellowship for Intentional Community has a lot of information, including a directory of communities throughout the world. Some of these existing communities are open to new members, some are open to visitors who are interested in finding out more.
Intentional Community: A planned residential community designed from the start to have a high degree of social cohesion and teamwork. The members of an intentional community typically hold a common social, political, religious, or spiritual vision and often follow an alternative lifestyle. They typically share responsibilities and resources.
Cohousing Community: A type of intentional community composed of private homes supplemented by shared facilities. The community is planned, owned and managed by the residents – who also share activities which may include cooking, dining, child care, gardening, and governance of the community.
Cohousing Communities, I think, best describes what I've been looking for. Everyone has their private space they can retreat to, but there is common space where everyone can gather for dining, socializing, relaxing, and playing. Part of me would be interested in joining one of the communities in my area to see what life is like there. The other part of me wants to start my own, to bring my family and friends together.
But how would that even work? Would it even be possible? Would modern life really enable such a thing to happen?
We all have our existing lives, where we live, where we work, our zones of travel. How could we arrange our lives , our activities, and our travels to be closer in the first place, let alone forming a community with our loved ones? We've got friends in various parts of the city here which would be difficult enough; however, we've also got friends across the country that we would want to incorporate into our community.
Naming the thing is a good first step. It's not just another some weird desire of mine; other people feel this way (and have been for a long time). I guess the next step would be determining whether the people we know, love, and want to form a community with are interested as well ... maybe this post is a step along that path as well. After that it gets hazy; if there are others interested in this, how do we proceed, where could we all be happy (with such a large dispersal, that seems difficult), etc.
Anyway, this was just one of those random things that's been in my head for a while now and I thought I'd get it out there now that I have a name for it, something I can search for and try to find more info and like-minded people (one of the good uses for labels).
I found this quote sometime in the past year on Pinterest. I'm not sure who it's from, but I had to save it. While I've felt this way for a long time, it's nice to have someone put nice words to the thought.
Family isn't always blood. It's the people in your life who want you in theirs. The ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile, and who love you no matter what.