Monday, February 14, 2011

My Perfect Community

Adam and I have been talking a lot recently about what our perfect community would look like. Its difficult to describe and even more difficult to visualize because some of the good things that we want simply cannot exist without the bad things that we don't want. Its all about finding that perfect balance.

For those of you that don't know, we currently live in a co-housing community in West Seattle. This means that our home is one of 23 homes that were all built around a common path. We walk this path to get to things like each others homes and the common house. The common house is a giant house in the middle of the community that serves as our social hub. We have meetings there, do laundry there, eat meals together there, and hold events there. It includes a play room for little kids, a giant kitchen, a giant dining/socializing area, a sunroom, a laundry room, a kids room (different from the toddler room), a bike storage area, storage, and an office. It is, essentially, the heart of the community.

In addition to participating in the social events at our community, we attend meetings, serve on various committees, and do work for the community.

Do I like it? The answer is complicated. I love it...sometimes. I hate it...sometimes.

Our community is broken. Most of the houses are for sale. Renters comprise about half of the people in the community and about 90% of the people that show up for social events. The owners have a lot of rules. A lot. There are rules for rules, and while I am sure that there are very good reasons for these rules, as a new member of the community, the shear number of rules is intimidating and overwhelming. If you inadvertently break a rule, people let you know it. Usually in a nice way...sometimes not. We have broken quite a few rules, including: parking two inches too far to the right, submitting a 10 day proposal that was not allowed to be a 10 day proposal, and walking up the ramp that lead to our house because it passed in front of our neighbors house. I imagine that rules are what has allowed this community to survive through a time that would have torn even the best of friends apart, but in my perfect community there would be less rules. Less rules and more open communication.

Despite all the rules and conflict, there is no way for people in my community to deal with conflict. No one to go to. No support. I attended a conflict resolution workshop at the common house yesterday and 6 other people showed up. 6 people in a community of over 50! Maybe that is the problem: too many people. No space to deal with conflict. In my perfect community, there would be fewer people - maybe 10 - and conflict resolution would be an essential part of that community.

UPDATE: I forgot the most important thing. Despite all the rules and conflict, apathy and estrangement, I LOVE MY COMMUNITY. I love my community because of the people. Some of the most interesting and amazing people live in my community. I love my community for the potential that it holds - the creativity of its members - the kindness and friendship that I have been shown. Its worth putting up with all the rules and tension, if for no other reason, than to be around these wonderful people. Most of them anyway :)

Adam thinks that his perfect community would live in a group house and share a common kitchen. I'm undecided. I like having my own space, but I also think that a common kitchen would encourage intimacy that doesn't exist in our community. People would be forced to interact and deal with each other. On second thought, I like the common kitchen idea. In my perfect community, there would be a common kitchen (though, if I'm dreaming of a perfect community, my family would get its own small kitchen just for us).

So, to sum up: My perfect community -
1) less rules more communication
2) conflict resolution essential part of interactions
3) about 10 people living in one house
4) everyone would be involved in everything - rule by consensus

OK, there it is. Who wants to join and buy a house with us - preferably something looking over the water - preferably you have kids Ilya's age or thereabouts? Anyway, there would be a lot of details to work out, but this is our dream. Who's in?

Happy V-Day


Hugs me by wrapping her two arms around my neck
Obsesses about chocolate
Climbs into bed to cuddle with me every night
Laughs easily
Thinks deeply
Sings loudly
Wears the same pair of purple "lets go" pants every day
Tries new things
Loves her friends
Loves me

Hugs me for as long as I need him to
Listens to me
Encourages me to define and follow my dreams
Is always trying new things
Follows his dreams
Loves Thai food and Sushi
Talks to me when times are rough until we are closer than ever
Loves his friends
Loves me

To the two most important people in my world: Happy Valentines Day. I'm so blessed to have you in my life.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Friday, February 4, 2011

Random Ramblings

Hello. Its been a while. Things have been busy.

I had a stress dream last night, except for instead of being naked and walking through the halls of a deserted school frantically searching for my classroom, It was performance night for the show I'm working on, and I suddenly realized that I didn't have any actors, and, for some reason the show was being performed on a lake with lumenarios, but the really stressful part was the no actors thing. Everyone was laughing, and I just wanted to crawl into a hole and hide.


I'm taking classes at a community college for web design, and I just realized the difference between community college and "real" college. Good Teachers. I just know that the higher ups in the community college system are all sitting around talking.
"I know, instead of hiring TEAHCERS to teach our classes, lets hire someone who does the job that we are trying to teach!"
"Good idea, Ralph! Everyone knows that a teacher is just someone who can't DO what they TEACH. Otherwise why would they be teachers? If we hire someone to TEACH what they DO, what could possibly go wrong..."

Oh, I don't know...maybe you get a person who has absolutely no idea how to explain what it is that he does, gives everyone 4.0's because he really can't be bothered to actually look at the quality of work being produced, while telling all the students that their work sucks because it is not at the level of his work. No shit, Sherlock, we're STUDENTS. We are LEARNING. A little positive reinforcement might go a long way.

The term "independent learner" is taking on a whole new meaning for me.


We've started having weekly meetings for our family, and, after only two weeks, I can't imagine living life without them. We sit down and talk as a family about the things that are working for us and the things we want to change. We bring up issues that we are having (ie. cat food is being put in the cat water...not so good...) and discuss solutions. Ilya brings up her own issues (ie. wanting more playground cute...). We appreciate each other and talk about our goals. It makes living life intentional rather than haphazard.


Ilya got accepted into two very exclusive preschools (the benefits of having an anal mother who submits preschool applications years before the child will actually attend said preschool). We have to decide by tomorrow which one we are going to send her to. The biggest problem is that one is in north Seattle and one is in West Seattle. We essentially have to decide where we want to live for the next two years by tomorrow. AGGG. Too much pressure.


I am absolutely in love with coffee. And Adam and Ilya. Coffee, Adam, and Ilya.


I am working with a nutritionist and have lost 10 pounds so far! She's awesome, and I feel really healthy. This links to her old website. Her new website will be up soon and it is going to be awesome, if I do say so myself :)


I ordered groceries from Amazon Fresh today and somehow ended up with 20 pounds of bananas. It was my fault, but if anyone needs some organic bananas, let me know. I've got plenty.

That's it for today. Munchkin is awake and ready for play.