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Starting My Own Commune - Salvador Dali in a lawn chair.
I'm invisible without 3D glasses.
Starting My Own Commune
Jimmy and I have often talked of distant commune living, not in the "this world sucks, gonna make a new one" kind of way, but in a "it's more economically sound for multiple families to live together" kind of way.

Homes in the past have usually been multigenerational, and it made sense. There would be someone at the house at all times to tend children, no gobs of money lost on day care. Old people would have someone to take care of them and wouldn't have to be sent off to expensive, abusive, and untrustworthy convalescent homes to rot. It's always cheaper to cook for more people.

Of course, this made more sense when populations weren't very as transitory and often just inherited their family's business or simply became an apprentice in the same trade. It's really only a modern invention, each new family of four buying a new house for itself. Why do we need all that space?

Keepin' up with the Jones's.

It's simply better for our economy to have as few people as possible in a household so that we have to buy more appliances, more food, spend more on utilities, take out more loans, and send off our children to live somewhere else when they're older. And when we die, they'll inherit our old houses and immediately sell them to the next expanding family.

But that's only the nicest of stories. Often families never finish paying off their houses, and just keep moving and moving with each new job or whim. "I want a room with a bigger garage" or they remortgage it to buy a ski boat or pay for their children's college. Or if people do fully own their house, their property is seized by nursing homes to pay past debts.

But it's not like the bank has a gun to our heads and sits us down at the loan officer's desk. We like our privacy and our space and our things. Who wants to take care of an aging, drooling, nagging, smelly parent? Who wants to be told how to raise their children by the other people in the house? Who wants to clean up after someone else's children?

I don't know anyone who does. But I do know that people shouldn't feel compelled to live in a standard fashion because a society controlled by an economy tells us to.

There are people over at my house nearly every night. I've got many good friends who are like family. They're like family because I've known them for so long; we have a history and a lot of forgiveness because I like to think we actually love each other. But it's more than that: each person that comes over is intelligent, good-humored, witty, and kind-hearted.

That doesn't mean I'd want to live with them all the time, but it's damn near close already so why not explore the possibilities?

There would be problems of course, especially since when you live in close proximity to other people, drama takes on a yeast-like quality. But if you set it up right so that you could have privacy and seclusion time (a difficult feat) then it might be worthwhile.

I need my privacy just like everyone, but the house could be designed to foster privacy in certain areas. Or it could be how my family's farm is right now with separate buildings just within a close enough proximity to help each other out when needed.

My father's family lives on a farm with several houses. The main house is about 120 years old where my grandparents live. About 150 yards away is my Aunt Alethea's house where she and her three children live. They're all grown, but two still live there, and often one of the children will go live with Papaw and Gamaw for a time to escape their siblings or to help Papaw (or previously, our great aunt Laura) get around (they did the same thing when they were younger, too).

They share meals, not all the time, but often. Another aunt, Aunt Margaret, and her family live across the highway (all within walking distance). Even my older brother, Hayden, 34, just moved back to the farm. People have lived away for spells but there's always a place or a willingness to build a place for you to move back. The whole family has always been a bit clannish. If my grandmother had her way, all her little chickens would be within the radius of a mile.

See frolicswllamas's post and navydave's post about similar topics.

mood: hrm
music: Lynnard Skynnard - "The Ballad of Curtis Loew"

4 Voices in a Chorus | Lift Your Voice Aloft
everraven From: everraven Date: August 19th, 2004 09:18 am (UTC) (link)
I've often thought that such living makes darn good sense. But then again, its often the drive for company, friendship and discussion that drives people our age to "commune" to the extent we do. The idea of being home, alone - for extremely long periods of time tends to bring onsets of terror and lonlyness...lonelyness...lone... oh hell I can't spell any darn thing today... ANYway.

What would groups our age (and withouth children/parents/grandparents living with us) get out of such a lifestyle - other than the obvious friendship, sharing of bills and the internet connection? *hurm* Its an interesting question to ponder.
lost_angel From: lost_angel Date: August 19th, 2004 11:53 am (UTC) (link)
You know, I'm not sure there is a whole lot that could be gotten out of it except for convenience and saving money. But you'd really have to be disciplined and tweak things properly to make sure you're saving as much money as possible. There would be obvious scheduling conflicts for things like washing clothes and even simple things like meals if you're cooking for lots of people (which is where you'd some money).

I guess the most we would get out of it would be fun and immediacy. People are already over here all the time. Nearly every night we have someone staying over and surely every weekend the spare bedroom is full and the couches are taken.

But that all being said, people have to be able to retreat somewhere, even if it's just for a short time, to be able to appreciate the time spent all crowded together.

I know that in times past when I was living in close proximity to lots of people, it was fun non-stop but it was the least productive time in my life. I do need silence and solitude.

It just gets me wondering though if it would be possible to design and construct a commune that would be able to accomodate these conflicting needs.
frolicswllamas From: frolicswllamas Date: August 19th, 2004 12:19 pm (UTC) (link)
I fully support this. The reasons you've listed (along with others of my own) have often prompted me to think of joining the Amish community. That lifestyle is vastly different from the type your proposed community would have (I'm pretty sure you want to keep your television and computers), but the concept is similar. And yes, Dave's idea of a mountain sounds lovely. I think it could work. You're on the mark about the privacy, though. I think a bit of solitude is mandatory for a person's sanity.

And something else you said...it's mostly an outlook difference, I think. For people who advocate that type of communal living, they don't usually view taking care of a parent as a negative thing (no smelly, drooling person). It's a more positive, loving thing. Think of the stories you get to hear, the practical advice on different aspects of life, the fact that your children would get to know well their grandparents (as it seems rarely happens these days...in some cases, I suppose. With everyone living so far apart). It *is* difficult to watch someone you love deteriorate with age, but hopefully by that point they've contributed so much good to your life that you want to make the rest of theirs comfortable. I don't know. I suppose this post was just an "I like your thoughts on this" message. :o)
prodigalson From: prodigalson Date: August 19th, 2004 01:21 pm (UTC) (link)
Interesting idea reagarding communal living.

Honestly I've never really experiences quite what it sounds like you and also everaven and mandis13 experience. My house has always been the place that no one goes and generally is not very open to others, a situation that I make myself becuase I can definitely be cold and distant.

However when I lived in Jackson and lived about a block away from Mandis and Glover was the closest that I came to experiencing anything close to what you are sudgesting, and even then I spent a large degree of time at my house.

I think that it would take a certain type of individual to make that lifestyle work, whereas others it would make insane.

Perhaps (we are talking ideal here) there could be a way to create a central area for people to congregate at, for instance for things such as food, computers and other general 'people' enterprises while seperate locations for sleeping and probably a study for reading.

For instance, think of a Roman style villa with a central house for most of the entertainment, while the arms spread out for living space.

I was thinking recently how, in a perfect world, communities would be formed with friends, individuals that had a deep sense of love for each other and caring. Where friends lived literally next door to you. It is to bad that jobs and life keep us from the people that we really bond to in life, the majority of which are scattered to the winds for me.

4 Voices in a Chorus | Lift Your Voice Aloft