Monday, April 4, 2011

Extending Families — Stephen Wallace

Maya Angelou has said that it is important that we all broaden the concept of family.

That is really what cohousing is all about - the ultimate extended family all living close together. I have been exploring cohousing for over a year and had become convinced the caring and happy Belfast group was the best possible place for me and my four year old daughter Elisabeth (aka Scout). I truly believe in the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child. I believe being a single parent makes that concept especially important. I want Scout to live in a safe place where there are supportive and playful adults and other children of all ages as playmates. It is like a close-knit neighborhood on steroids. So for me this was perfect. However I kept encountering obstacles to making the commitment, and the final heart-breaker was one of temporary financial challenges.

Then Coleen, a very creative, think-outside-the-box Equity member came up with a brilliant solution, and Elizabeth called with an offer to house-share if I was interested. I gave it some thought, for about 5 minutes, and then realized the idea was not only the opening of another path to where I was supposed to be, but also perfect in a thousand other ways. This opportunity is simply a widening of the whole concept of cohousing. So, not just cohousing as a community of separate dwellings and a common house, but really living in cohousing.

Sharing the house itself means always having a friendly and supportive face to greet and listen and talk over the day. Sharing a home means continuing to practice consensus building in one's private spaces and modeling that for my daughter. Sharing a house means good company all the time, even when you don't feel like stepping outside. Sharing a house means practicing respect for the other person (and modeling that for my daughter). And finally, sharing a house means walking the walk and demonstrating what can be done in making real community happen.

Maya Angelou was right.

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