Adventures in community living

I should clarify that I have never lived in a community. My mother has long wanted to set one up in the South of England and I have been kept in the loop about the progress, or most the time lack-of. Yesterday we accompanied her and my stepfather to an open afternoon of the one they hope to join. In the end, she realised that it would suit them more to become part of an already established one than continue the stress of attempts to form their own. Having recently watched the film Wanderlust Zack and I joked it would be like the one depicted, and in some ways it actually was…

For as long as I can remember my mum has wanted to live in a community. When I was young we almost went to live in one in Wales, ultimately though ended up in Ireland for five years instead. For my sake she postponed her plans for a later date, perhaps she had an inclination that community living would not suit a child like me. Once she saw me leave home and settle with my fiancé it was all go on the plan.

The last few years for my mum has been recruiting potential members, attending open days and courses and researching possible locations. Sadly though the truth was that whilst she and my stepfather were ready to invest money in a large property nobody else was. Some had houses they could not sell, others did not want to commit so much money and most just did not have the funds at all.

The whole thing started to break down last year when a meeting was held at mums house. Personalities clashed, nobody could agree on where to look and frankly some of those there seemed a little away with the fairies – it would not have surprised me if they had announced they were going to get in their time machines. The never sturdy group fractured even more and my mum found she was finding the whole thing one giant nightmare.

After a little prodding in the right direction mum reconsidered one of the communities she had done a co-housing course at. The problem was that they had a one pet rule. The three guinea pigs were no issue, five cats however was another thing. So we came up with the idea of her buying a house in the town the community is just outside of. This seemed a perfect compromise as they could be involved whilst not flouting the pet rule and another person could take up accommodation in the actual community buildings.

Yesterday the four of us went along, mum and my stepdad to lay out their plans, Zack and I to be nosey. Both of us have always been interested in community life and this was a good opportunity to have a look round one, meet some members and have free cake. Now when it comes to the previously mentioned Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd film there are similarities, all of them are exaggerated in the film for comedy effect. People in communities to tend to dress alternatively, they are more open to differences and they are often interested in alternative medicine and beliefs. It stands to reason that alternative people will be interested in alternative ways of living. Many of them had lived in foreign countries and saw the community as a way of settling while still having the social benefits. As far as I am aware there were no nudists living there and their main vices were tea and coffee, not pot and hallucinogens.

Toilet socialising was not forced at the one we went too.

Toilet socialising was not forced at the one we went too.

It looks likely the move will be going ahead for mum, as a result Zack and I plan to attend some events at the community in the future. Personally we would not want to actually commit to living in one – we hate being tied down. Being involved from the sidelines though is certainly a good compromise. Its going to be an interesting year!

For the privacy of the community I have not named them. If you are interested in community living in South England I have linked to the ones mum was impressed with. Alternatively for communities worldwide check out this site.

South England Communities:
Monkton Wyld – Dorset
Threshold – Dorset
Trelay – Cornwall

*Wanderlust film still credit to Universal Pictures.


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