I want to single out the Twin Pines Co-op as a place that does community right, and I'd like to tell you why that is.
still going to talk a little bit about Lawrence, Kansas. Particularly
this is going to be about the Twin Pines co-op - referenced earlier in
"the kindness of strangers, the power of community."
recap, briefly, I visited a co-op where I stayed for a month 15 years
ago (Olive House) and they referred me to somewhere that might have a
place to stay (Sunflower House). Sunflower didn't have a place, but
after sitting down for 5 minutes various people gave me a beer, offered
to let me sleep on the porch, offered me money if I needed it, and
connected me with another place that might have an indoor space (Twin
Twin Pines let me stay. There wasn't an
official exchange, a trade of services or money, except for a simple
"we'll figure it out later." They meant it. Everyone I talked to had a
warm welcome and was curious and conversational. I got used to people
being interested in where I was from, and why I had picked Lawrence as a
stop on my trip.
Eventually I attended the House
Meeting, where I assumed I would sort out the cost of my relatively
brief stay. There were lots of other things for discussion, like
renting out the front yard for parking spaces during the upcoming
football game(s), but the subject of rent eventually came up.
Draw a mental circle around this next paragraph. It's the important part.
people in the co-op had struggled with rent for one reason or another.
They talked about it in calm, compassionate tones, and everyone was
clear that kicking anyone out or even creating "disciplinary" things
just wasn't an option they wanted to explore. Since it was a co-op
everyone needed to pay a certain amount to continue to pay rent for the
whole building, and that was also calmly talked about, but everyone was
clear that they wanted to make room for everyone else to go through
something difficult and not just get tossed out on their ear.
Money is so often the sort of conversation that invites people to act awful, compared to their baseline.
In some situations even looking at images of money or having it
mentioned casually causes them to act less "humane." The Twin Pines
co-op, even when the rubber was hitting the road financially, was still
acting with compassion, acknowledging that people had been through
difficulty (and even saying they were glad they could help them through
it), and talking about it as calmly and compassionately as if they were
talking about the dinner plan. As for the cost of staying there, that
conversation was just as nuanced and easygoing and straightforward. I
did a bit of work, I paid a bit of cash, and it seemed like it worked
Looking after each other happens when
it's difficult or complex. If it only happens when it's easy, it isn't really looking after each other.
So far as I'm concerned the Twin Pines is a snapshot of what it looks
like when a community functions with its head and heart in balance.