One advantage of reading a newspaper in print is the chance you’ll stumble into something good you never would have searched for online. Like Tom Farragher’s first-house piece in the Boston Globe’s revamped Sunday real estate section.
Telling the story of the Connecticut house where he and his wife, Joanie, learned to be husband and wife, Tom got me thinking about Beacon Hill Friends House and what it’s teaching me.
In neither case is it just about the house. Continue reading
Six months into our time at BHFH, we’re enjoying life in the house so much that it’s hard to imagine moving elsewhere. But all residents are term-limited at a max of four years and there’s always a possibility that our stay could be shorter.
So we’ve kept one eye on what might be next, a perspective informed the other night by something called a Coop Crawl — sort of like a pub crawl except that you visit coop housing sites instead of saloons.
Since most of you are probably as new to the world of coop communities as we are, here’s a basic primer on the three categories we’ve become familiar with:
- Collections of like-minded people forming households that typically share space, food and decision-making — and sometimes politics and worldview, too.
- More formal set-ups (like BHFH) guided by specific expectations of conduct and collaboration
- Hybrid arrangements (like co-housing, discussed below) that include more private space and ownership than that offered by coops
Dave Goodman in the common kitchen at JP Co-housing
Common to all three is a commitment to “intentional community,” an approach to daily life that demands and values getting up close and personal with people outside your family.
As one of our Crawl hosts, David Goodman, said the other night, “It’s not for everybody.” David lives at Jamaica Plain Co-housing and noted that one of his relatives puts it this way: “I love co-housing except for the ‘co’ part.” Continue reading
Neither Bill nor I grew up in households where we shouldered especially demanding chores. Bill cut the lawn and took out the trash, but his mother once confided that she did me no favor by laundering, ironing and putting away his clothes for him. In my family we were just expected to help out with whatever was needed. That might mean working in the garden, setting and clearing the table, or odd jobs. And the easiest way was considered the best. This looseness around chores led to some interesting consequences early in our marriage. We often had a messy house. The first time I washed Bill’s shirts I put any that weren’t permanent press in a laundry bag to iron later. Several years and a couple of moves later we finally threw out the untouched laundry bag.
We carried our family of origin patterns over into our child-rearing. We tended to clean what we needed to when it seemed to need it rather than on a regular basis. Our kids helped out with things, but didn’t have regular chores. We more or less got the job done, but in a fairly undisciplined and sometimes untimely fashion. At some point when we could afford it we paid people to do the heavier duty cleaning of our house.
So, living in a house where we all have regular chores that need to be done at specific times has been a new and interesting experience. We have a chore for five weeks at a time and then switch. This cycle I sweep the kitchen courtyard on Wednesdays and the St. Francis courtyard on Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning. Because this is falling leaf season, I also put out the yard waste I’ve swept up for curbside pickup on Thursday evening. Continue reading