In September of 2014 I moved into an intentional community. Based on “One Earth” principals, ( i.e. how could we all live if we only had one Earth to live on?”, it offered a sustainable, low impact lifestyle whilst offering a high level of walkability. I expected and assumed that most of the people who chose to live there would be doing so based on wanting to shrink their carbon footprint, reduce the amount of driving in their lives and reduce their levels of consumption and possessions. I wasn’t expecting a latter day New Lanark, or some Herbert Morrison style socialist paradise with everyone living in yurts and knitting their own yogurt, but I imagined an open, collective-minded community with a strong spirit of identity.
Alas, this is far from the case. Most of the home owners appear to be empty nesters who sold their McMansions , bought something smaller and pocketed the difference. I think they were less motivated by the solar panels, ductless heat pumps and superb insulation than by the chance to trouser a substantial wad of cash, move into a new home and still be within a few minutes walk of the throbbing groin of Downtown. To be honest, despite my jokes about the neighbours when I moved in, the overwhelming stench of Pachouli, stewed lentils and unwashed armpits would have been preferable.
Instead what we have is society writ small. The owners already look down on we renters, as indeed do the developers, who distributed guest parking passes to the owners, but not to us.
There are a number of ways to spot members of the chattering classes, and I’ve seen several examples over the last few months: There are a considerable number of young children here, not a bad thing in itself, but having to dodge abandoned toys and the like is irritating, especially in the dark, or when wheeling groceries from the car to the house. Indeed, an email was circulated asking parents to deal with the issue of bikes, toys etc left lying on the lawn and pathways overnight as well as the damage caused to someone’s garden bench by crayons and paint.
Now, if you were brought up by parents like mine, you would have been expected to tidy your things away at the end of the day and would have been taught how to be a decent member of society and be aware of other people. Guess what? These people aren’t like that. Their solution, so as not to spoil the creativity of their little darlings – precious snowflakes all, no doubt – was to form a “Circle” , i.e. a Kaffee Klatsch to discuss the issue. This is their solution to all issues, though we never seem to hear of any resolution. It appears to me that the circle jerks decide what they want, and the rest of us can go to hell.
The worst example of this is the parking. Each residence is allocated one spot with four guest spots available. The Politburo – the biggest circle jerks of all – has now decided that each person will be given a designated spot allocated allegedly on the location of their home and size of their car. When I read the initial email I had one hell of a job getting fragments of exploded bullshit detector out of the walls, believe me. No doubt the best and most convenient spots will go to those who made the decision and their friends.
This, however, is not enough for some people. Despite being well aware of the parking situation before moving in, one couple recently announced that they would like to rent a second spot in the lot, and are willing to pay $50 – $75 a month. Yes, your eyes aren’t deceiving you – A MONTH. You can’t find bicycle parking for that price. I knew that most of the residents were self important pricks with a sense of entitlement, but this just takes the biscuit. Preferably one that’s just been in a circle. I’m not sure who the people in question are, but I don’t think I’ve seen the husband. The guy must need a wheelbarrow to push around his enormous balls, and I’m sure I would have noticed that.
So what do I do? the kids love the place. On their first weekend here, my daughter walked to the library three times just because she could. They live in an area with no sidewalks and miles from downtown so I can’t say I blame her. It’s safe to let them go out on their own, and downtown is small enough that they can’t go far anyway. It’s handy for the boat and I love being able to walk to the store. In my previous house, any trip involved the car and if I forgot something I just had to do without, whereas here there is no hassle in popping out again, indeed, I often end up going to the store twice in one day. There’s no way I could find a place this new in a similar location for the same price, and moving off island would increase my gas costs and make it harder to see the kids during the week.
I realise that some of this is down to me ( see “I’m Coming Out”), and it’s been 18 months, so it’s a bit late to start making the effort, although I’m trying my best to be friendly to people. I’d hate to have to move if I can’t find a job before the money runs out, (see “Black Coffee In Bed”) but it might come to that. Despite what I’ve said, I really like living here – it suits my needs and is incredibly convenient and it’s the nicest place I’ve ever lived, apart from the kid’s house. I don’t have an upbeat ending for this post, sorry. Let’s just hope my next housewarming party doesn’t take place in a discarded refrigerator box. “Spare a talent for an old ex leper” anyone?