Who wants to live in my village?

Often, my writing starts in one place and ends someplace else, not usually from any hard turns or non sequiturs. More like there’s not quite as much air in one tire as there is in the other, so we slowly drift in one direction.

I decided to share with you the around-the-bend part of something I wrote that started with a specific wildfire that happened here in May, and I got to wondering how we foster support for people in long-term support-requiring situations. The broader question quickly narrowed down to us, in our day-to-day lives, and how we can support more and be more supported, when no one feels like they have any bandwidth for any of it.

The answer is in community. The saying is “It takes a village to raise a child,” and while that’s certainly true, the village is needed for more than raising children. (And for most Americans, there’s not much village for that, either.)

What we all need—some more, some less—is a variety of people to lean on or interact with in real life on a regular basis. If a person in need has five people who are actively helping, it’s less likely that any of them will get burned out. And if all of them have other people to spend other time with, they’ll be able to balance out emotional give and take. 

And if all the people involved have other people who help make their lives easier, then everyone has time and space for all of these interactions.

The problem is that we’re all in it alone, it seems. Work, taking care of kids, taking care of meals, taking care of the house, taking care of friends and/or relatives. It’s a lot, and it doesn’t leave room for relaxing, for having that nourishing time with friends, especially not routinely.

I have often dreamed of having neighbors where we liked each other well enough and had enough overlap in food preferences where a couple of times per week, we shared a meal. The prep was shared, either one then the other, or always shared (main from one, sides from the other, or something like that). There would be less work, there would be more community. Life would be better. More than one other household? Fantastic!

I can also imagine the conversation: Well, we can’t do it Monday because Kid has soccer. And we can’t do Tuesday or Thursday because Kid has ballet. And we have piano lessons and karate on Wednesdays. And and and and … 

It’s sad and frustrating. 

In the same dream, “I’m going to Target, do you need me to pick up anything?” would be a thing. Or, “I’m taking the kids to the park, do your kids want to come?” Or sharing the task of getting the kids to and from school. Or alternating whose house the kids pile into so the others can have a bit of quiet time. Or sharing equipment (outdoor and kitchen), so everyone doesn’t need to own and store all the random tools that we use only occasionally and take up budget to buy and space to store.

Sharing the load, it would be lighter. (This assumes it’s well-shared and all that, but I think communication skills would need to be part of the deal.)

Who wants to come live in my village?

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