Jean, a sweet older woman from a co-housing community in the college town of Burlington Vermont, visited our Green Acres ecopod with her daughter Arlene early this afternoon. After I took them on the tour — in which she duly noted both hugelkultur and water catchment as ideas she’s going to take back with her — we sat and talked for awhile.
I asked her about the demographic in her co-housing community. She said she wished it were more diverse, but unfortunately, most people are older, like her. “They have the money!” we both agreed — to get into this kind of a situation which is decidedly middle-class, and requires lots of money, time and newly embedded energy up front. “I wish more people would do what you are doing here,” she repeated several times. “Transforming an existing neighborhood into an ecovillage.” I agreed — “and much less expensive,” I added.
She spoke of having been a librarian all her life. “I never made more than $25,000 a year!” “Me either!” I exclaimed. “Why do people think they need so much money?” we both wondered.
We agreed that living below the money culture is much preferable to taking on constant new debt. That way we aren’t buying into the system. Unlike most people I meet, she was aware of Cuba’s experience with running out of oil. I told them about my son Colin’s Garden Tower Project — and Arlene wondered why landlords don’t get on board with community gardens in apartment complexes and condo associations.
We spoke of the five years she spent when she was 45 to 50 caring for her mother all day every day with alzheimer’s and parkinson’s. Her siblings wondered why, thought she should “get a life.” But she couldn’t stomach the idea of turning her beloved mother over to a corporate-run nursing home where her mother would receive at best, she was informed, only 1.5 hours of attention a day. “And she couldn’t speak, couldn’t use language! And if you can’t speak, there’s no way you can speak up for yourself.”
Jean is a beautiful example of someone who embodies the values of the Care-Centered Economy.
The subject of privatization and corporatization of everything — including universities, — including both the University of Vermont and IU having just within the last few months joined with their local hospitals to become one, even larger conglomerate. Hmmm. . . . The timing is interesting, and prompted me to ask, out loud, “Are these mergers both part of something even larger?”
I told her about Crones Counsel, this year in Mt. Shasta, California. And about Great Old Broads for Wilderness. Jean and I agreed that we need to be speaking up much more about so much that matters — “If for no other reason, than for our grandchildren,” she trailed off, almost wistfully, looking at her daughter, whose two-year-old son they were about to pick up from pre-school.
It’s with no great surprise, that after they left this synchronicity popped up, on facebook: