Spadework

  • Posted on: 17 June 2017
  • By: jrcwebb

Are we making progress?

At one time or another, there are those among our group (myself included) who have expressed frustration at the slow pace at which we're moving ahead. Indeed, there are more than a few  who are no longer among us for whom frustration was the reason for leaving. It's been slow - or it's felt slow. People have come and gone. But I wouldn't say it's been a slog.

We first were summoned to a meeting at the main branch of the Kitchener Public Library in February last year. Tom and Dorota (who have since stepped back) and Al and Wendy (still going strong) were the instigators. Sixty or 80 people (I no longer remember exactly how many) attended the first presentation. There was support for the concept from the get-go.

So why have some fallen by the wayside while others have hung in?

Pig headedness may be a factor. (I speak mainly for myself.)

Pleasure in one another's company? That too.

Mostly, however, I think it's the  vision of what we may one day create: a community.

Not just buildings.

Not just buildings constructed according to abstract, sustainable and people-oriented principles, though these are admirable goals.

But buildings conceived, planned and constructed by the people who will live in them as a community. People who expect to be friends with one another, who plan to work together to maintain and grow their relationships, who expect to share the lows and celebrate the highs of their lives together. And the only way to achieve this vision is by first coming together as a community.

The 60 or 80 people who showed up at the first meeting were not a community. They may have shared certain values. They may have been similar in demographic terms. Most, I'm willing to bet, were university-educated. Maybe we read some of the same books and all listened to the CBC. (I'd put money on that.)

But building a community when you start with strangers, even strangers with certain shared characteristics, is a process that takes time. I've come to think that it's fundamentally a process of invention. We're not inventing cohousing: that's been done. We are, however, inventing the process that will make us admire one another for our strengths, tolerate one another's foibles, and trust in one another to make decisions we all can live with.

We're still figuring out the process that will bring our community together.

We'll achieve our vision by digging our way there. It can seem slow. It's certainly laboious. You might think of it as spadework.

One shovelful at a time.