This morning, I received a call from a podmate: she has a wicked bladder infection. Would I please go to Bloomingfoods and get her some pure cranberry juice? Done! I rushed out the door, and came back with two bottles plus some cranberry capsules that the clerk who checked me out swore by when she once battled the same issue. Arriving back home, I gathered up the bottles and capsules and stepped out of the car, only to see a neighbor drive in behind me, asking how our turkey was . . . our conversation went on for ten minutes, about our kids, and family and just generally “shooting the shit” as we used to say. Finally, she released me. I told her what the cranberry juice was for, she commiserated, and I rushed away. When I gave the loot to the infected podmate, she asked about the cost. “Never mind,” I responded.
Just last night she had fixed a giant pot of soup for all of us to dip into. Added rolls to the mix. “I cleaned out the freezer,” she explained.
This is how the Danish concept of “hygge” works here, at the Green Acres Neighborhood Ecopod. And it does work! The mother of another of my podmates asked me, during Thanksgiving dinner, to which she had contributed enormous amounts of food and ended up doing most of the dishes: “How do you deal with difficult issues here? How do you make decisions?” I responded (and remember, I was, at the time, somewhat woozy with my still developing illness, and in fact went to bed soon after) that we’d never had an issue that became so large it was difficult to work through. That whatever came up, if it didn’t work itself through naturally, we would schedule a pod meeting and put it on the agenda. In two years, we’ve had, how many, three pod meetings? And none of them contentious.
The six of us, and assorted friends and neighbors, rely on the continuous flow of weekly community meals and daily personal interaction. Not that we’re “in your face” with each other. Each of us leads a very full individual life. And yet, the constant changing dynamic between “individualism” and “community” in this experiment feels highly creative and regenerative.
Not that it’s “easy” to establish such a harmonic atmospheric field. Indeed, I experimented for years here, until the “right people” finally coalesced to help make it happen. (And remember, one of the criteria was that it be an intergenerational community, young and old, together). These are people who fully appreciate and work to embody that dynamic within themselves. People who no longer need drama to make themselves feel alive. Instead, we, again, rely, on subtle signals in our atmosphere. Something seems to be “going off;” something “isn’t quite right.” Let’s look at it. What’s going on?
Rather than distrusting each other’s motives or intentions, we assume good will. That is the baseline. Without good will, nothing else can build.
Usually, whatever is going on simply needs more communication thrown into the mix. Our noses get out of joint when, in the absence of full information, we make assumptions that differ from or even contradict those others made. Our various unconscious assumptions, once teased out, flood us with relief. So that’s why that happened! Okay, “now that we’re on the same page,” we can begin again. And we do, over and over. Welcome to Green Acres Hygge!