Since our last update we have visited no less than 9 Cohousing/Intentional Living communities from San Fransisco all the way up to Vancouver in Canada where we now find ourselves. This weeks video is from one of the communities we stayed with Valley Oaks in Chico USA.
Valley Oaks is very much typical of the communities we have visited. A slightly older pre dominantly white middle class demographic. As this pattern has become evident to me I’ve been asking questions as to why.
Cohousing is expensive to initially buy into. When starting a Cohousing community it often involves a degree of financial risk, (it’s normal to commit money years in advance of a project ever being guaranteed to work) and it takes time. These facts immediately rule out a lower socio economic strata of the population. There are opportunities for these groups to participate after development but they are rare and not well publicised.
These facts don’t mean that Cohousing doesn’t work however. Indeed it works very well. People are happier, more connected, better supported and there can be no argument over the movement being better for the planet. So the question is why is this not more prevalent as a way of living around the world?
The answer to this is not going to be revealed in fullness via an article in the Henley Herald but our observational experiences aligned with in depth interviews with community members do reveal some key insights. Cohousing is not good for capitalism. Car Pooling, the sharing of resources from washing machines to tools is not good for business. That means that spreading this message is not supported by big business or the political classes who have vested interests in the status quo.
We have grown up in a competitive culture that chooses to celebrate individual success over and above the achievements of the group. Our success metric is all related to our personal wealth. The size of our house, the make of our car etc. Our systems and culture has been carefully manufactured to benefit business and capitalism.
Deep down we know that systems have to change. We see the evidence on display every single day of our lives, whether that be via the climate change science, or the ever widening gap of the have and the have nots. We need to re think the way we are living. Intuitively I’ve know this for 10 years plus but I have always found ways to ignore that intuition. I told myself that I was doing my bit by taking my recyclable bag to the supermarket. I know, and I think most of know that this won’t cut it.
During these first 8 months of this adventure we have seen how pioneering communities are modelling alternative ways of living. Models that are kinder to themselves and much kinder to the planet. They are having to find innovative and creative ways of establishing their communities because they are operating outside of the standard cultural paradigms to which we are all accustomed. Despite the odds of success being staked against them these communities are flourishing. Mainstream audiences don’t yet know about them but we are going to be doing our bit to help change that. Having seen the evidence I am more convinced than ever that we can and will shift. If there’s one thing that the pandemic has taught us all it’s is that human behaviour can change quickly and radically when the narrative is persuasive enough.
I believe community can save us. I believe it will save us. I also believe that the power of community to change the world is one of the great untold stories. I’m more excited than ever to play a small part in telling that story.