I think it was when I was young and reading ‘Little Women’ by Louisa May Alcott that I first came across the term ‘castle in the sky’ and thought it was an utterly marvellous way of terming the dreams we have for our futures. Sadly the hindsight provided by having done this, is that the way in which life pans out can seem disappointing by comparison.
Nonetheless, never one to learn from anyone’s mistakes (even my own) I have been dreaming away over the past year or so, constructing another such castle, this time one with highly practical applications.
Seeds were sown when my best friend proposed that women were better at living together than with men, and besides it took a village to raise children so no-one should expect to manage all that well. This got me to thinking about how great it would be if various of my friends-and-relations could all pool resources and live together in one big house, living as something of an extended family and create an idyllic community with shared values, shared responsibilities and (most importantly in this age of economic crisis) a shared financial burden.
Having been laughed out of our local council’s housing offices, I can only draw the conclusion that unless my friends-and-relations and I can get our financial acts together and rent somewhere large enough to serve our purposes (or I can convince some tv station that being allowed to follow us with cameras through the teething process of the commune in exchange for funding the house it would be situated in) then this is something of a pipe dream. Which is galling, as I feel that the principles under which the commune would be run would be beneficial to all concerned.
Benefit to the Government
- Removes several people at once from their ‘waiting for help with housing’ register
- Allows several people a higher degree of economic freedom and so the ability to put money back into the economy
- Supports the nurturing of a community where the skills needed to function in society will needs be honed
- Lifts some of the burden of childcare on people, allowing them to re-enter the economy
Benefit to the Group
- Shared costs of living
- Close-knit community (agreed, that might also be a challenge at times)
- Satisfaction of making it work
- Using varying skills and abilities of individuals to make the commune work as a whole
Benefits to the Individual
- Chance to live and be nurtured within a group who are all ‘for’ one another and enjoy mutual support, acknowledgement and affirmation
- Opportunity to develop existing and new skills in the running of the commune
- Opportunity to contribute skills, talents and efforts to the smooth running of the whole and to be appreciated
and that’s just off the top of my head.
On an interesting by note, I feel that this kind of a commune would allow each person to develop as an adult in the ways the UK government has suggested as appropriate for children under Every Child Matters – staying safe, being healthy, enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution and achieving economic well-being. If these outcomes are
suitable desirable for our children, how much more should the nurture of these principles be continued into adulthood?!
You know it makes sense.
Wish-list for the ‘Castle Commune’
- Big house with enough rooms for each person/couple with dorms for children
- Large garden with areas for play and growing fruit’n’veg
- Chickens…and maybe ducks
- Shared meals
- Everyone committing to make it work
- House meetings that everyone enjoys and can contribute to
- A financial set-up that works (haven’t quite figured this one out yet)
- Common goals for the shared experience
- Everyone giving and receiving, financially, emotionally and physically