While members have their own apartment units—43 total, on 1.34 acres—they share a great deal, such as the common space, regular dinners, and sometimes even cars. They make decisions through a consensus process, and all play a role in the children’s lives.
This mode of living differs sharply from the standard apartment complex, where people often barely know their neighbors, much less share holiday dinners with them. In contemporary American society, “community living” typically refers to life in a nursing home or senior community. After college dorm living, we may go most of our lives without ever living in a community again. However, the communal mode of living is the most natural way of life imaginable, judging by the fact that humans evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to live together in tribes or villages. in which everyone depended on one another, in tribes or villages.
People get together to share common interests in Takoma Village, Ann says—everything from singing sea shanties to meditation and exercise. Ann and one of her neighbors meditate together regularly. Others hold a weekly nonviolent communication practice group, practice arts and crafts, and teach Spanish lessons.
Living in community has taught Ann to be extremely tolerant, she says. She’s learned to be more flexible about people’s different ways of doing things, and to let go of the desire for strict rules. She’s also learned about nonviolent communication, computers, and meditation through shared learning experiences. After seeing the Dalai Lama with her meditation partner, they became serious about practicing early each morning. In the process, they grew to know each other very closely, becoming good friends.
This built-in support network benefits parents and children immeasurably, she says. “Imagine being a parent, and you don’t have to drive anywhere to take your kid. You don’t have to have this schedule of taking them here, there.” It’s more like when she was growing up, she says, when kids would just play with other kids in the neighborhood instead of having a strict itinerary after school. Plus, when kids do have after school activities, parents and other adults often share the driving responsibilities, she adds. “For parents, there’s nothing like community living,” she says. Whether in a cohousing community or another form of community, families have the village support that so many parents and children are lacking today.