Cooperative Living: Week 11

Ongoing journey of living in an activist collective

I’m definitely still getting used to people filtering in and out of the house, waking up to find strangers making coffee in the mornings and spending the night in spare bedrooms. But it’s all really good for me in the long run- stretching my boundaries about personal space, and how to exist within community. Letting go of that control that is gifted you when you have your own apartment or house. Because, for me, while that apartment to yourself and ability to control what happens within it is a gift, it is also a curse. Living in a collective environment helps me to balance things out: to learn to let go of trying to claim control of everything, while also carving out a space of control without myself- regardless of external factors.

However, I have realized that finding coffee shops to frequent help create a space to decompress, as it is hard to fully do that in a community living situation- regardless of how disciplined you are.

On Monday we celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day (see Indigenous Peoples’ Day). As part of the organizing team for the event, I was in charge of media and spent the past week learning how to send media advisories, press releases and follow up calls to newspapers and TV stations. The event went well, and I attended with my housemate who is from the Mohawk nation, along with four other ally friends.

Tuesday I attended a Neighbors of Onondaga Nation steering committee meeting, and a guest staying at our home made sushi for us all.

Wednesday night I attended a lecture about gender roles within the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and how they influenced early 19th century feminists in America. Thursday night I attended the Rapid Response team meeting, where we planned how we could best protect our immigrant neighbors living in the city. After the meeting I came home to a house party and bonfire, complete with free Mike’s Hard Lemonade which everyone regretted drinking the next morning. Friday I interviewed with an immigrant and worker’s rights group, and I have a few other interviews coming up in the coming weeks.

Saturday night Carp and I, a few of our housemates and our friend from AmeriCorps NCCC who was visiting all went out on the town and checked out the Syracuse nightlife without spending a penny.

What I am learning about the difference between an anarchist community and society outside of this community is the difference between laws and rules. Society has laws, which, in theory, if you break, you are punished for. Anarchist communities have rules while, if you break, you are not punished for, but are invited to think about how you have hurt the community by your actions. If you break enough rules, you are asked to leave if you are continuing to hurt the group.

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