For the past 30 years I invited many friends to consider communal living, either locally or abroad. The conversation would flourish primarily for two reasons:
• none of us wanted to live in a “drugged and drooling old folks home” as we had witnessed aged grandparents do in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and
• a warm climate vacation home was an appealing vision as a way for living our retirement years and escaping our long Canadian winters.
Indeed, some form of communal living was my early ‘start-up’ plan for retirement. That, and the recognition that my parents’ deaths had catalyzed a need to create home and family within my community of friends.
Although everyone enthusiastically pitched in to expand the communal dream, even agreeing that the 1993 TV mini-series Tales of the City and the 2012 movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel were perfect models, we never executed a plan. IMHO, we were not highly motivated to move the dream and benefits of communal life into reality because —
- rent and housing prices were affordable for middle-income people.
- we believed we had enough money to purchase the ‘elder health care’ we desired.
- old age was too far into the future.
- we believed we had time and could change the Canadian healthcare system to suit more humanitarian living and dying.
- communal living was arguably associated with either religious cults or pot-smoking hippy communes.
- the thought of sharing a living space with someone we could not get along with brought back bad memories of:
- sharing a bedroom with a quarreling sibling
- dorm living or shared housing in our twenties, and
- co-habitation or marriage ending in separation or divorce
I often wondered if it was the latter skill shortage — our generational fear of conflict and/or inability to collaborate with others — that kept my generation from taking the risk.
Well, in spite of our fears, life seems to situate us where we most need to be in order to learn what we most require. I say this, because the boomer generation, of which I am the tail end, has now aged into its elder years. And, we are now confronted with an Innovation Age requiring us to put away our old conflicts and collaborate (person-to-person, company-to-company, nation-to-nation) in order to survive and thrive.
The most recent example of such international collaboration occurred at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference where 196 parties negotiated a consensus, the Paris Agreement, to reduce global warming. Although binding commitment and enforcement mechanisms are yet to be established, global agreement and collaboration are encouraging the possibility of returning Earth to a healthy planet. If the agreement is formalized in April, it will jettison us into communal living at the macro scale.
At the micro level, housing prices in large North American cities no longer allow the average Millennial (Gen Yer) to purchase a home. So, as a generation — whether student or employed — they are embracing communal living a.k.a. hotel, mansion or condo-style — the Merkaba Community Collective in Vancouver, the Atangard Community Project in Abbotsford, and a five-unit condo dwelling designed and built by Millennials on my own residential street. There is something so refreshing about their willingness to take the leap of faith that so many generations before them feared. I feel the promise of peace at our fingertips.
What step can you take to further the promise of peace in your personal life?
For more on collaboration and peaceful living, click here.
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