Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A lawn mower as tselem* for community

When we went to graduate school, we closed down a small farm and sold most things off and fit our family of four + dogs and cats into a one way self-move. We traveled over a thousand miles to where we would live on a University campus for three years. (Note part of my decision to go to school where I did was that there were no pet restrictions - and I was fortunate to get into such a good school. Now that's what I call a good fit.)

At first we had asked for the smallest 3 bedroom place available but later realized that we had limits on how small a place we could live in very close proxmity to neighbors (under 900 sq ft). So after a few months we got a small cottage on campus where we would have our own yard. The university of course expected us to mow the lawns of the yard - as they did other families.

Very few people had fit a mower in with the self-move to university housing and none of us had money to go and buy one but after a while we learned about the community mower. This mower was housed with one family in one place and returned there when done. There was an informal word of mouth system to accessing it which included Jr. professors and such. As our first year ended, we were asked to house the mower becaue we had a shed with no doors. We found someone to take it when we left. The thing was an old beater and anyone who used it was also expected to work on it, as able.

I had always had an interest in community and I have thought of this mower while reading Sharon's Adapting in Place posts. This mower came to represent for me the way of life that is possible in intentional community. When you have community in this way the gross comsumption of everyone owning one of everything is short circuted.

Forming community is always intentional. If you are doing this with carpooling with co-workers or setting limits on the inlaw on the couch (a Sharon thing) you deliberately are working things out. Do you have things you share with other people? How far are people willing to take this concept?

*tselem is Hebrew for likeness or image where one thing comes to represent another.


Hausfrau said...

We "share" our tile cutter with the rest of our immediate family, does that count? It has saved us a lot of money from not having to pay professionals to tile our floors.

Verde said...

Frau, yes of course it counts. For one thing you have learned a skill and your extended family has one tool rather than every household having that tool.

Robj98168 said...

I have had an interest in tool sharing. Or starting a tool sharing site, something like a freecycle site or a neighborhood tool library
I think it would be neat to have a centrally located tool shed where you can borrow a tool you need.

Verde said...

Ya see what I mean???? Here I am stuck in the boonies dreaming of things that already exist in advanced culture.

I think, "why do I need to adapt in place when there are enlightened people mere western states away!" Move over Rob.