Community living

Community living

In one of my previous posts, I thoroughly discussed the many options one can have in living a different life. I think it is good to reflect a bit and discuss what ‘alternative’ really means in this context. In my opinion, it is choosing a life path that most people do not take. Typical is to finish your study, having an office job, buying a house, driving your lease car, having children, and maybe try your luck with a few swings at your nearby golf court! I am generalising a lot here, but you must agree that this is what most people experience. Let’s be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this lifestyle. The question is ‘do I want to live such a life?’.

One alternative way of living I describe as ‘community living’. What do I mean by this? There might be many explanations but for me it means: living together with people you know fairly well by sharing most of the spaces as a community, with the intention to help, share, and participate in each other’s lives (for the greater good). A general description which, if you stretch it a bit, could apply for living together in a student house 😊. Let me clarify and deepen the explanation a little bit.

Firstly, it has to do with a strongly aligned goal within the community. ‘For a greater good’ resonates well with me. It has to do with regaining independence for the ‘system’, to be self-sustaining and respecting mother earth. One can think of an eco-village where they use local and natural building materials for constructing their houses, were self-sufficiency is provided with solar panels, rainwater collection, and large permaculture gardens for food.

Secondly, it is important that the shared spaces go beyond the typical ones you see in shared housing (kitchen and bathroom). These are only the essential ones. Community living goes a step further. It is sharing large community spaces where one can work comfortably, relax when needed, cook community meals, have birthday parties, house workshops, and meditate and reflect inward when required. The outside areas are shared too. Think of a communal fireplace for singing, dancing, and playing; a shared garden for relaxing and growing vegetables.

Lastly, it is important to connect on a much deeper personal level than you would see in a typical shared living space. From a place of openness, trust, and light, to find deeper meaning and connection in the people around. Everyone in the community can help each other to become a better human being. To become more deeply connected with this life on earth.

In my vision, I see a large plot of land surrounded by lush forest. Lots of land available to grow crops and to be self-sufficient. I see scattered houses made from a combination of earth, lime, stones, and timber. Some tiny, some much larger, all surrounded by green and flowers. At the center of the community, I see a much larger building, or a set of buildings, that house the shared kitchen, living room, workshop spaces, and more. A small restaurant with organic and great tasting food. People doing their job out of joy. People laughing and having a great time together. Solar panels are scattered around. People creating their own products. Visitors that are attending workshops. A busy and alive space.

A big vision but not unique in this world as these communities already exist: Auroville in India, the Ananda communities in Italia and USA, or the Regenvillages spread across the world. They are becoming increasingly popular. With my personal experience in Auroville, I discovered that it is quite challenging to begin something like this and more importantly maintain it. The success of such a community depends greatly on the group of people together. In my opinion, these communities cannot get too big otherwise it becomes difficult to manage. You really need something that creates a bonding experience like a ritual of sorts. You need to create a group identity that everyone feels part of.

More practically speaking it is not easy for such communities to be created in the Netherlands. There is a lack of large plots of land at a reasonable price. Also, rules and regulations can be strict. Especially because such a way of living is not typical, it might be difficult to get the required permits. Of course, these are mere obstacles to be solved with a strong determination! I am looking forward to the day where I can comfortably sit in the shared space of such a beautiful community. In the future, with the help of many people, we can build something like this. For the young and curious, for the families, for the health-conscious and creative people, for humans that want to connect, share, and love. Let this post be a message to the world that I am ready the accept its offer!

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