I recently worked on a story for the wonderful G Magazine on ecovillages and this had me researching and speaking with people who lived in these “intentional communities” around Australia. There was a lot of eye-rolling when I mentioned once or twice (ok, about twenty times) that I wanted to move to The EcoVillage at Currumbin – check it out, it’s amazing – and I may have mentioned to one or two people that I want to live in a commune. So what do you say, do you want to come live communally with me and my just-turned-into-the-devil two-year-old?
Before you roll your eyes at me too, think about it – we can share the child-minding, cooking, cleaning and also the highs and lows. There’s that old favourite proverb about it taking a village to raise a child and, as Mia Freedman recently wrote, the village is missing for most parents, who flounder along doing it all and wondering just how much they’re screwing it all up.
Hence my craving for commune life.
One of my case studies told me about the time he and his wife went overseas, they returned to find their home had been cleaned and aired. And that the community organised a roster of food deliveries when their baby was born so they didn’t have to cook for a month. Now, I’m the first to admit that I live a pretty charmed life and have lots of help from my wonderful family and friends, but I love the idea of living somewhere where there’s so much give – and where you’re expected to be the one giving as well.
There’s one catch, of course, and it’s a pretty curly one: You have to deal with other people. Maybe not in your house, but certainly in your life – and all the time. Those I interviewed for my story all mentioned that this was both the best thing about living in a community, and the most challenging.
There are people out there – sustainability experts, not just the hippy fringe – who say that communal living is the only way our society can survive. Experts speak of the “triple bottom line” of sustainability, which is: environment, economy and community.
What do you think? Could you share your life with others – for better for worse?