Saturday, November 02, 2013
I'll buy that blue sky...
I watched a documentary a few nights ago about the apparently new phenomena of households comprised of single people. The latest census revealed that there are now as many people living in households of one as there are couples and families. The "singleton" was once considered a bit strange or odd, but now is being single is considered as valid a lifestyle as living as a couple.
The program followed a number of US and Canadian singles, but also went to Sweden, where single people living alone has been a norm for decades. A psychologist explained that Sweden's culture is based on individual freedom and autonomy, for both men and women. Higher education is provided as freely as elementary school, health care and child care are universally available, allowing women to pursue careers, there are generous maternal and paternal leave policies, and elders do not live in poverty.
But what interested me most was a housing cooperative they visited, where residents cooperated to do the daily household chores, the cooking, took their evening meal together, and socialized as desired, but each had their own private space which they could retreat to when they felt the need. This cooperative was occupied by both elders and younger singles, artists, writers, people who went out to work. There was studio space filled with weavers, potters, painters and carvers. A healthy data connection allowed web designers and workers to be part of the mix. They had a garden space where they grew organic food for the table, an exercise and meeting area, a greenhouse and a big hot tub.
Reading on the subject, these co-ops are are the norm in Sweden. In fact, in Sweden, co-op housing provides more than one fifth of housing. Many people live in housing cooperatives, feeling that they are a way to reclaim the old "village" dynamic where one is known and has a web of support that has disappeared with the modern era.
I have wondered for years why we can't do something like that here? Condos are human deserts, where people avoid getting to know their neighbour lest that neighbour turn out to be the one who parks herself on your sofa at 10:00 am every morning and has to be crowbarred out the door, or wants you to mediate family quarrels or pray with them for your eternal salvation through their god Ramaalamadingdong.
A small co-op, comprised of people who pass the basic sniff test for sanity and reasonableness seems a very good idea. Sixteen to 24 residents, large enough to share chores, yet small enough not to create a riot in case there's a disagreement on what colour of tablecloth to use at Winter Solstice.
I've got it mapped out in my head, if anyone wants to discuss the parts. Purpose built for Canada. Another Blue Sky….