Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Three E's of Community Living

I think Chris Martenson did a great job with the Three E’s (Economy, Energy, and Environment) in his DVD, Crash Course, and it made me think of words to describe what is needed in community living.

Enthusiasm is a great word that not only describes what is welcomed but needed as we all get burned out from what sometimes seems like “Groundhog Day.”  I think enthusiasm is a word that makes one smile and when shared is contagious.  I certainly don’t enjoy being around those who are mostly miserable and complain when work needs to be done.  Enthusiasm is the spark that keeps the motor going when you sometimes feel like stalling.  It’s the bounce in the step that never trips us and keeps us moving in the direction we need to go.

I witnessed this a few months ago when my husband and I visited a cohousing development in Corvallis, Oregon (  While enrolled in a computer class at the community college in Eugene, my teacher announced that he lived in a cohousing development (sometimes we cohorts find each other in the most unusual places).  During a break I introduced myself telling him our story and he invited us to attend Coho's Open House/Tour that was soon coming up and we accepted graciously. 

It was our first visit to a cohousing development and we thought it might be advantageous to show up early to help with their work party, and in return we were invited to stay for lunch which was a plethora of good food including Sunflower sprouts from their garden and homemade juice. 

Our enthusiasm was well received as we dove into a different kind of work building a bark mulch trail off the main path.  It was great to accomplish something with people whom we just met and it wasn’t long before our enthusiasm sparked conversations of sharing and caring for each other. 

Generally speaking when one talks about having enthusiasm, it’s usually backed up with energy in order to accomplish the task at hand.  Whether it’s reaching consensus or shoveling manure, energy fits hand in glove with enthusiasm and not much work gets done without it. 

It’s especially hard sometimes to have the energy needed to move forward when we know the odds are against us.  As we’ve said before, living in denial of collapse is much easier than facing the fact that we are losing ground, literally as well as figuratively.  It’s like going to work every day and wondering if you’ll get a paycheck at the end of the week, month or season. 

Efficient is the third E and hopefully the end result after using our enthusiasm and energy in the most productive and least wasteful way.  Learning what is the most efficient way of doing things can take a long time so bringing together people who share different fields of knowledge will help in shortening the time that we’re running out of.

I’m sure most members of shared living/cohousing would agree that these three E’s are very important in the success of community living, and would welcome those who have these traits.

Again this weekend I felt the Energy and Enthusiasm that was shared by our small micro community knowing we could kick ass when the sun shined.  Our daughter and partner came over to help and it was refreshing for us to see these two E’s in someone other then ourselves.  Our daughter even noticed how good it made her feel to see the before and after of what we did together.

Because of the unusual amount of rain we’re having late into the season, the hand weeding hasn’t been completed and the ground is too wet to plant leaving us behind in our growing season, which is already short to begin with.
Winter Storm March 2012
While us girls weeded, cooked and cleaned the boys roofed the upper part of the barn and placed our new duck house in the garden.

Though we were all very tired by the end of the day rubbing our muscles with arnica and comfrey oil, we still managed to share pleasant conversation while enjoying a good meal together and the next morning we stood above the garden and below the roof of the barn admiring the work that got done.

Nasturtium in the greenhouse 2012
I haven’t enjoyed something so much as watching our granddaughter exploring nature in the garden.  At one point she sat by our garden gate facing the sun in a Buddha like position and we wondered if she had eaten some medicinal herbs.  Each morning when she woke, she grabbed her boots and headed for the door.  It’s great to remember the enthusiasm and energy we all had in our youth and for her we need to keep it going.

I watched as she followed the ducks, dug in the soil and picked dandelions that she later gave to Nana.  She watched Nature on a big screen that was better than 3D. 

I hope to always have a bit of enthusiasm and energy to share with others and I hope I can depend on others when I need it.  If you’re ever looking to share your living space with others, think about the three E’s, Enthusiasm, Energy and Efficiency, they make a big difference.

We recently launched our new website and appreciate all the hard work that went into the professional job well done by our latest community member.  We’re happy to announce it here: