We just left the Woodard Lane Cohousing Community to come to Italy. As we moved in, others who’d moved out told us their take on who’s attracted to Cohousing communities: First, there are the extroverts, the folks who would love to live communally under all kinds of circumstances. Perhaps these are the folks that thrive in communes, hostels, barracks, etc. They might happily live under a ping pong table so long as someone else was involved. Secondly, there are the introverts, the folks who love community under certain conditions. Perhaps these are the folks who enjoy their private space but also enjoy a structured environment to discuss the merits of turf (at length) with people they’re not related to. Who does that leave? Extroverted golfers?
As an unapologetic member of the first category, I particularly enjoyed the dinners our cook teams prepared each week, not just to eat but also to throw my weight around a bit. Known fact: bantering about religion, politics, or community gossip helps prep vegetables efficiently. Subjective Observation: Heated discussions about the role of colonialism and the rise of Wahhabism (Jim: look it up!) occasionally yields mixed culinary results but certainly keeps things lively!
With everything cooked and ready to eat, we gathered in a circle and shared some kind of blessing, reflection, poem or hokey pokey before digging in. Upon arriving at WLCH, my sociological analysis is that members of the second camp had unduly influenced a version of a popular grace I remember growing up. It went:
Thank you for this food,
This food, this glorious glorious food,
And the animals,
And the vegetables,
And the minerals,(!)
Who made it possible.
MINERALS! It’s PEOPLE! PEOPLE who made it possible. Suddenly grace was reduced to a guessing game! I mean, sure, some folks are pretty into crystals and the like but when did a mineral ever harvest your lettuce?! Or berate you about Wahhabism? In a rather uncouth manner I began to loudly sing my version each time we did that grace and attempt to pull more people into my camp. Most sung it way they’d always done.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from (watching other people in) community, it’s that you rarely influence people over the long term by force and your best bet is being a good example. Folks set an incredibly kind and loving example for us in cohousing, and we’ll always remember it fondly.
By request, I was asked to record some of the other graces I learned growing up in Waldorf schools and here are 3. I’m sure my versions are slightly more bombastic and overbearing than those you’ll find on Rudolf Steiner’s Greatest Hits, but take them and share them in memory of me.