People & process
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Earthsong has a vibrant and active community life. From the twice weekly common meals to the many spontaneous potlucks, parties, and casual interactions on the path, there's plenty of opportunity for socialising and enjoying home-grown recreation and entertainment.
The beauty of cohousing is the balance it offers between privacy and community; with each individual, family, or couple living in their own home with gardens and backyards as secluded as desired, yet simultaneously allowing opportunities for working and playing together, sharing resources, joys, and sometimes sorrows; breaking out of the isolation so common in modern urban and suburban lifestyles.
Residents include people of all ages, several ethnic groups, various backgrounds and a range of economic circumstances. Senri (age 9) did a survey of Earthsong residents for a school project, and this is what she found:
Children at Earthsong
It takes a village to raise a child, and cohousing is a wonderful place for children and adults alike. With 15 full time younger residents from babies to teenagers, and several more grandchildren who are regular visitors, there are plenty of opportunities for friendships and plenty of places to play. Intergenerational friendships are also valued. Several older residents have become surrogate grannies, aunties or uncles to smaller residents, and the young parents are delighted to have trusted older neighbours to lend a hand when they need it.
The car-free environment allows safe play in almost all areas of the neighbourhood. As well as the children's room in the common house, there is a large sandpit, a playhouse, trampoline and swing for the younger kids. Older children find places to build huts, kick a ball or shoot hoops. Teenagers are also supported with the teen room, table tennis and pool table, and teen's outdoor patio by the common house.
Twice a week, a beautiful home cooked meal is prepared in the common house kitchen by one of our 8 cooking teams. Most residents are on a cooking team and participate in the common meals, and because every team has at least one confident cook, even beginner cooks can enjoy the experience! Each team of 4 or 5 people cooks once a month; planning the menu, buying the food, preparing and serving the meal, doing the dishes and cleaning up. This is a big job, but is usually lots of fun and a great way to get to know your neighbours.
In return, the other 7 times a month you can relax after work and spend time with your family instead of cooking, and then turn up to a nutritious and tasty meal. Attendance is voluntary at all of the meals, but most members look forward to eating out regularly with friends and family, relaxing, enjoying conversation over good food and drink, and strengthening social connections. Without a doubt the common dinners are the heart of the community, and many good friendships have grown around the dining tables.
Neighbours Who Care
There is a huge sense of ownership through having been part of planning and working towards the completion of the project, and this continues as residents cooperate to plan and establish gardens, orchards and childrens' play areas.
Residents cherish the sense of belonging and satisfaction that comes with working together on shared projects and being part of a caring neighbourhood.
It is a very safe neighbourhood, both because of the absence of cars around the houses and living areas, and because neighbours are quick to spot unusual behaviour from people they don't recognise.
The pedestrian-focussed neighbourhood is safe, peaceful, and quiet, leading to more community interaction and cohesion. The reality reflects the vision carried for so long, and this vision of cooperation with and respect for each other and the planet continues to unfold as attention is paid to ongoing systems.