Cooperative Living: Let’s get together! Right now!

Seems obvious, eh? And those my (advanced) age, check this out:

This kind of cooperation is more radical (not to mention economic) than co-housing, and steers dangerously close (tongue in cheek) to “communes,” how we lived back in the late ’60s and early ’70s, with great fanfare and lots of messy attempts at regulating exuberant youthful behavior. Those were the days of experimenting with the reality that fast closes in on us now.

And guess what! We aging hippies are now the experts that other generations (and those others in our generation who hated hippies back then) can call upon to learn how to cooperate rather than separate.

And hey, who would have thought that economic hard times would cure chronic loneliness? We were taught to move and stay apart, told that we were supposed to be independent and self-sufficient, and yet, and yet! The pendulum swings. Too much in one direction boomeranges us back the other way. Just in time.

But, wait a minute! Need to swing that pendulum again. Or maybe just fine tune the way this particular pendulum works, how togetherness and independence can be jointly realized with least fanfare and expense . . .

For I still need my own room. (Or maybe even my own little hut.) Always did! Didn’t get it when I was a kid, had to share with Marnie, the next in line. Didn’t get it as a young married woman, and instead endured his snoring. In my 40s I woke up, while again married, this time to an extreme snorer, and realized that from then on I would sleep alone. Period. And now, more and more I’m seeing articles on married people sleeping separately.

The point is, we can both have our cake and eat it, enjoy both independence and cooperation, and their constantly shifting balance, but differently, out of the old boxes, the old shoulds and shouldn’ts. We just need to experiment a bit more — and, very important, not be afraid to fail. Each failure counts — if we learn from it. The key to success? Don’t take anything personally. All is grist for the mill and nudges us in the direction we want to go.

Let’s face it, real learning is inherently, a messy business. Like playing in the mud. Hands get dirty. It feels good, soothing, to plunge our sweet hands into the soil of real life.

Groups Of Adults Turn To Cooperative Households To Save Money

March 26, 2012


These three women have sold their homes and moved in together in a cooperative household. (Credit: CBS 2)

With the cost of living on the rise and showing no sign of slowing down, total strangers desperate to save money are moving in together.

As CBS 2’s Dana Tyler reported Tuesday, older adults and even families are using this method to pool their resources. And the new communities are redefining the modern family.

Two million Americans over the age of 30 now live with a housemate or roommate, and shared households make up 18 percent of U.S. households – a 17 percent increase since 2007.

One group of women sold their homes and bought a house together in Mount Lebanon, Pa., after they all got divorced.

“It made amazing economic sense,” said one of the women, Jean McQuillin.

McQuillin, Louise Machinist and Karen Bush call their home a “cooperative household.” Each woman has her own bedroom and bathroom, and they share the common areas of the house, chores and expenses.

“We are all really busy,” Machinist said. “We’re hardly ever all here at the same time.”

The women entertain and socialize together, and they even share a pet cat. House rules state how long visitors can stay, and what happens if one of them wants to move out.

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