A Context for Hope: The Gift of a Cohousing Childhood

The Winter 2021 issue of “Communities” landed in our mailbox this month, and I was immediately taken by the theme: “Children in Community.” What a bonanza! Stories written by both parents and (now) adult children who grew up in community fill these pages. Over and over, one message kept coming up: the benefits of a childhood or parenthood spent in an intergenerational “village” that played a major, positive part in the lives of children, parents and their neighbors.

Paul Freundlich, an active participant and creator in the development of cooperative, communitarian, and sustainable alternatives for 60+ years, set the tone with his intro. “In these perilous times,” he asks, “is there a path that guides recent generations to reach a future worth navigating? Nothing works for everybody, but I’ve seen that the choice to prioritize community pays lifelong dividends.” Freundlich concludes, “To the extent we can co-create communities which live by values consistent with a healthy future, we give our children and ourselves a great gift: a context for hope.”

Jo Sandhill, raised in cohousing communities, echoes this sense of hope and happiness: “The true value of community in my childhood was the diversity of exposure to love. It is much easier to be a better and more empathetic person if you are raised learning all the love languages … I have several lifetimes worth of love to emulate.”

Renay Friendshuh also emphasizes that sentiment, noting that her childhood taught her that living in community “expands our families and our hearts…we learn to mutually respect and trust others in a way that frightens conventional society. Daring to be vulnerable is not easy and because of this, there is no greater reward.” Jessica Fitzgerald Ruvalcaba is a member of Urban Soil/Tierra Urbana cooperative, located in the heart of Los Angeles. She emphasizes, “For me, living at US/TU means a higher quality of life and the ability to live more in line with our values. My kids have US/TU brothers, sisters, grandmas, godmothers, aunts, uncles … My children have a whole village of adults who love them and look after them.”

And then there’s Myriad Huntermoon, who moved to Heart-Culture Farm Community at the age of three and is now 17 years old. Her childhood was “heaven” spent in a beautiful rural setting, mixed with the loneliness of being “different” from other kids at school. However, she worked through the challenges and cannot imagine a better life for a child. To others facing the challenges of building community, Myriad urges, “Never give up. The dream and goal of creating an open, loving, and healthy environment is the most noble thing you can do for your family. If your community is struggling, that’s okay … [Children] will notice your efforts to make a sanctuary for them, even when you might think you are failing.”

Reading these articles has lifted my heart and renewed own dedication to the hard work of creating the many pieces of River Song Cohousing community that require our focus and vulnerability. I’m once again grateful for those who have gone before us, and for the opportunity to be part of “a path that guides recent generations to reach a future worth navigating.” 

 

Category: Living in Cohousing

Tags: Children, Growing up, living in cohousing

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