Since I'm having so much trouble finding a place to live, I'm considering starting a queer house to co-habitate with others in.
I've never done this before.
Seeking advice & wisdom from folx who have done a decent amount of co-housing, and especially those who have started them.
Honestly, after getting so much great advice, my conclusion is that I'm not ready to take on starting such an undertaking! 😵 💫
I have a lot of growing & wisdom-gathering to do before I think I can pull this off, but especially I think I need some good trusted local friends to help get the whole thing started, which I haven't established here yet.
Thank you so much for the words y'all! I've put them away for future reference. :3
@tty So this is not an easy one. I would say life experience and go with your gut feeling. Intuition picks up on signals that can be difficult to explain.
@tty Make sure it can work financially, with wiggle room. Money won't make you happy, but lack of money will crumble the whole thing down even if love is there.
@tty Maybe write down a few things that are super important to you that you can't compromise on, like big no-nos. And use that to take the temperature on the person in question. Also try looking for qualities in a person that appeals to you. Team player? Helpful? Etc
@tty I've lived in some queer coops (15+ people) and we often had visitors! id recommend reaching out to local coops if they exist and politely ask if anyone could give you a tour/intro, and hear how they run things. coop folks are often proud and happy to share; we regularly had couch surfers, travelers etc stay with us. if you don't have any local ones i can send some emails and ask about online resources if you'd like
@tty or just if you want chat sometime I am happy to share my experiences about collective housing, but not sure how applicable/helpful a bunch of anecdotes are 😅
@tty soo, about the rules and systems. I don't feel like I have enough experience to actually give advice, but I do feel like the things we currently do in our collective are worth mentioning – not as a "this is how you do it", but as an example that might give you inspiration for different things that are better suited to your needs.
As context: We are a living collective of 8-ish people that wants to be pretty close in a caring for each other way, but that sometimes struggles with these things.
we do a monthly meeting. It is mostly for organisatory stuff, but we start it with a round where we talk about what is going on in everyone's life, how everyone is doing. It's not mandatory to attend, but things get nicer and easier when most people do.
the meeting is the place to talk about reproductive labor (household, care,...), how it is distributed, how we feel about it. Ideally before there are big problems. We are trying to do it regularly. I like it when we just do a round and everyone (who wants to) says something about it, and then we talk a little about what that means. Once, we did a more elaborate thing that was also rly cool: we made two sheets with scales on them, one for cleanliness feelings (happy to unhappy) and one for energy level (a lot to very little), and we all marked where we stood on those and took that as a starting point. In general, for me, it's rly helpful to both know what is important to myself and others, and to know what we all can currently do, realistically.
we have a few roles distributed: checking the bank account, reading our e-mails, giving updates on food coop stuff,...
we don't have a cleaning schedule. We pay attention to what needs to be done and do it when we can. In addition to that, we have cleaning days every two weeks for the bigger things that we don't do in everyday life, like cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming the whole flat, wet cleaning the floors. Currently those are spread out over a few days and we have a checklist to see what people want to be done and what already happened. When we all have time on the same day, we often do a big breakfast together, talk about what we want to do, and have more of a cleaning party.
We have two big notebooks: one for meeting notes, cleaning checklists, notes to each other. And one diary-ish/guest book ish one.
we have a family planner style wall calender, but we use the columns for daily tasks instead of people. Our current columns are feeding the cat, opening the windows and watering the terrace plants. We also have one column where we mark when we have guests and where they are sleeping, so that there's an overview of that (less relevant in the pandemic, hah).
we have a calendar that shows a week with the hours of each day, and each of us has their own color. There we mark the times we know we're not home – good for finding dates to do a thing, knowing how many people will eat the food, making sure someone is home to care for the cat.
in the same colors, we have cute little animal magnets. Since we want to cook for each other and it's sometimes important to know if you'll have to find your own food or someone else will anyway, we write the next two weeks on a whiteboard and put our magnets next to the days when we want to cook. The goal isn't necessarily to fill the whole week, just to make it easier to plan.
we have a Signal group, but we don't use it for discussions or for picking dates.
Oh, and about the picking people.... for us it's kinda important that they are excited about our way of living together and want to do this. Other than that, we go by our gut feelings.
We ask people to write us what they liked about our ad. Someone who answers that with "you have big terraces and I like talking to people" and doesn't pick up on things like care work or living together as a political project or any other important-to-us things that we mention is probably not very compatible with our style.
We get together half an hour before we meet the person. We print out their e-mail(s), mark noteworthy passages and think about what we want to know.
For figuring out how they think about living together we do this thing: Starting with the person who has been living here longest and ending with the potential new one, we each talk about our living experiences and how they brought us to where we are now.
For people who are going to live here long term, it's important to us to meet them offline with everyone present so we can experience the dynamics and see if that feels right.
We also tell them to sleep over it and tell us in the next days if they're still interested.
We collect our feelings about a person we met and write them down so we remember who was who. We try to avoid saying "omg yes I would love to live with this person" type things because they make it hard for others to veto or voice their concerns.
@tty oh yeah, this place has grown over 10 years so far (me being around for half of that), so, these structures definitely grew (and keep growing, of course). At the same time, of course, we're just a bunch of awkward humans bumbling along :) There are definitely times when questions like "is it fine if I open the windows" or "did you like the food I made" or "how are you" are too hard to ask, like, we don't have some kind of perfect communication thing going on. But we try :)
@tty this is a great idea an wholy worth the trouble if you know enough money management and dispute mediation
@efi I might!? But I'm not also not interested in being the House Mom -- I need folx who want equal accountability.
@tty I haven't started a community myself, but I do live in an intentional community. a book you might find helpful is Creating a Life Together by Diana Leafe Christian. you could also look at the communities database on ic.org for others who are doing something similar, and maybe try contacting them to ask what's working and what isn't. @Moss
It's great when it works!
Most importantly I think is having people whose company you enjoy and have good enjoyable communication with.
Communication key, but how you do that in an enjoyable way differs from person to person. I really like discussing things over dinner as you have the added comfort of food. Knowing how we all are doing helps in understanding people's reactions, so checking in on the well being of your housemates is nice and useful.
@tty ive just moved into a collective home a month ago. So far it's been lovely and surprisingly functional.
Its a six person home. Decisions are made by concensus but there's no formal process for it.
Weekly tasks (vacuuming, big grocery shopping, garbage...) are swapped around ever three months.
Groceries are pooled and the costs are evened out at the end of the month when rent is due. Accounting is swapped every three months so there's total transparency
The biggest thing for me is how dinner is handled. Every person has one night a week they are responsible for making dinner and doing dishes. So i only have to worry about making dinner one night a week and every other night i just know there will be food for me or leftovers.
Sunbeam City is a anticapitalist, antifascist solarpunk instance that is run collectively.