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Bringing neighbors together to build a more sustainable, resilient
future for 
Berkeley. We envision a strong, diverse local economy,
with a greatly reduced 
dependence on fossil fuels, 
and a cooperative, rewarding, community life.

The Gift of the Group

Posted by Upstreamdancer on July 8, 2013 at 2:10 PM

I'm doing a remodel in my home right now and blogging about it at my Shelterand site. I thought you'd like this post written a few days ago.  (Loni Gray  Shelterand.blogspot.com):

I'm realizing that there's another layer of motivation to doing this house project than just reaching for the companionship and energy that collective living offers me. Even beyond the delight of space designing my house. There's a layer under that, that is starting to bubble up to the surface. Because at last it can.

 

If I think about it honestly, sharing my home means having to do less. Less of the obligatory and the responsible, and more that is quite personal. And that's a healthy thing! It gives me time to find what must come from deep inside me and act upon it. How often do we have the time these days to do that?

 

Years ago, my beloved hubby and I tried doing it all ourselves. We did the tree-hugging, "back-to-the-land" lifestyle on10 acres in Washington. We were by ourselves because no other family lived in the state, and because my husband didn't trust strangers to hold true as a family would. We also had two young children. Even in our early 30's it was an huge task to create that from scratch on raw acreage. And, it became an overwhelming amount of work to maintain; ask anyone trying their own version of radical homemaking or urban homesteading. It is one of the reasons I do not have my husband anymore. We were trying to be supermom and dad and super global citizens all at once. 

 

I will also tell you that living all those values as just a nuclear family was very lonely at times. Everyone was a car ride away. Think about it. If you are trying not to get into that car until you have multiple errands and places to go, and if you are trying not to waste resources and conserve, then you do not hop into a vehicle every time you just ached to rub shoulders with a friend who is miles away. Nurturing yourself kinda settles to the bottom of barrel.  

 

So now, have those old priorities lost importance? Just the reverse. Those values are all the more dear to me, but I'm seeking another path to them now. One not so burdensome, or lonely, so I can achieve it.

 

Dunno if I'm wiser now that I'm older, but at least I've learned. I've learned that relying on someone else's muscles is okay. I've learned that reaping the benefit of their fascinations, inclinations, and strengths, enriches me. And now I am also realizing that their presence gives me breathing space.

 

And precious time. 

 

Time to relax, and exhale or walk to see a friend...just because. And even more to the point, living this way gives me time to explore all sorts of interests, some they've stimulated as well as my own. The time lets me delve into all those passions I discover I want to improve. To deepen. 

 

So if I look honestly at my own motivations, there's a real desire to use the collective as a gift for my own pursuits. But see then here's the thing: Being who I am, and still reaching for those values now means I get to focus on what skills I want to bring into the way I live. To train in skills that are important, and intensify my expertise. And that allows me to become more resilient, a deeper resilience that grows from the explore and the pursuit. (At least in the ways that I can, being who I am right now.)

 

Altogether then, I'm seeing that collective living, theintentional community impulse is in total harmony with transitioning into localresilience, and the Transition Town movement. They are interwoven for me, one fabric. Intertwined, they allow me, and anyone seeking that part of themselves, to seek and exploit my own resilient strengths.  

 

So now, what do I choose to make of this gift?

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