Post-Hippie Living in the 21st Century?
June 13, 2006 11:55 AM   Subscribe

Alternative living filter: I am a single woman in my mid-30s, seriously contemplating having a child on my own.

Except that I would really rather not do it on my own. Ideally, I am imagining some sort of cooperative living arrangement with other women in my situation (or even couples, etc.) who would like to create a non-nuclear family environment, where resources and primarily labor power are pooled together to make this work economically and emotionally. The closest model I can think of is kibbutz living and of course the hippie cooperatives of the 1970s. Anyone know of anything like this out there anywhere in the U.S.?
posted by picklebird to Human Relations (17 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Do you want to continue working a normal job in the "real" world? That might be a bit hard to do. There are a lot of communes that you could try to live in in rural areas, largely disconnected from the rest of society.

A friend of a friend lived in Twin Oaks, a good example of the "hippy" communes that persisted.
posted by phrontist at 12:19 PM on June 13, 2006

largely disconnected from the rest of society

To be clear, Twin Oaks is not really like this.
posted by phrontist at 12:24 PM on June 13, 2006

somebody will need to quit their job to take care of everybody elses kids. Is that going to be you?
However much work you think it is going to be to raise a child, multiply that by 100 and that is reality.

We have 3 adults in my house and 2 toddlers and that is barely enough to keep up.

real family bonds are important because you can't walk out on your family without long term consequences. This keeps them together under stress. If I walk out on a commune it means nothing.
posted by Megafly at 12:32 PM on June 13, 2006

Best answer: The Twin Oaks site also links to the Intentional Community Directory, which might help.

And Megafly, I don't really see marriage or family ties being an unbreakable bond these days...
posted by occhiblu at 12:41 PM on June 13, 2006

No, occhiblu, not unbreakable, just much much more stable than a (hippie or other) commune.

I would guess that the ratio of marriages from the 70's that have persisted until today is well over 50% (assuming none of the spouses died), whereas the number of hippie communes that continued over the same period of time is close to zero. Twin Oaks seems to be the exception that proves the rule.
posted by sour cream at 1:26 PM on June 13, 2006

Given that picklebird is not, in fact, asking how, or whether, to get married, all such dismissive comments seem a bit out of place here, however.
posted by occhiblu at 1:30 PM on June 13, 2006

somebody will need to quit their job to take care of everybody else's kids.

How so? The various cooperative members could work opposite schedules so that someone was always home, and then no one would have to quit.

Here's an article I read once about anarchist community living arrangements in Greensboro, NC of all places that suggest you don't have to go live on a farm and spin your own calico to work something out. I've always thought this would be a wonderful way to raise kids.
posted by jennyb at 1:35 PM on June 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

Also, I'm sure that you could take an ad out in the paper seekng for other single moms who want to enter into a collective living arrangement.

Here's a Craig's List posting for a cooperative living situation in Chicago. It doesn't seem to be geared to raising kids, but it's an example of the sort of thing you could look for. Also check out Hip Mama, which might be a good springboard for where to find info on this sort of thing.
posted by jennyb at 1:40 PM on June 13, 2006

Response by poster: Occihblu's link sent me to exactly the right place for my needs. There are indeed hundreds of cohousing arrangements available in the U.S., and the directory listings often state the cohousing organization's stance on kids and also shared finances, etc. Also, I missed this article, but it seems I'm not the only one thinking about this.

Anyone out there have any experiences with cohousing?
posted by picklebird at 1:42 PM on June 13, 2006

Picklebird, please be very careful about the communities you chose to investigate. Stay far, far, far away from any of the twelve tribes communities. Make sure you are cross-referencing the communities against listings on the Rick Ross cult/ controlling group database. There are some seriously scary stories out there about some of these groups.
posted by necessitas at 2:41 PM on June 13, 2006

Opps, hit post too soon. Rick Ross Institute
posted by necessitas at 2:41 PM on June 13, 2006

Picklebird... best of luck. I sincerely applaud your initiative.
posted by FauxScot at 3:58 PM on June 13, 2006

How do you feel about the idea of fostering or adopting? There are communities forming now that are built around the idea of providing support for foster families by having multiple generations living in proximity, so the kids get "grandparents" and the adults have people in the community they can turn to for help.

Treehouse is one of them, but I think there may be others that are forming or starting to form around the country.
posted by stefanie at 6:01 PM on June 13, 2006

Best answer: Picklebird, I, like you, am a woman in her mid-thirties thinking of having a kid on my own. What worked great for me and my mom (when she had me she was single) was cooperative daycare. Several of my closest friends date from that time, as a small child I felt I had an unlimited number of siblings and many mothers. It was a great feeling.

I don't know about Ohio, but in San Francisco I've started to see some cooperative daycare arrangements get started. The way ours started was that the mothers whose kids played in Tompkins Square park banded together to create a daycare. Each mother / father had duty days where they looked after the kids. I think at one point it was in peoples houses and eventually moved to a common commercial space. Honestly, it was a ball, and I still feel like I'm part of a village (it was in the East Village in NY infact). I will definitely try to find or start something similar for my kids, and suggest you consider it.
posted by zia at 6:30 PM on June 13, 2006

Best answer: Resources are out there besides possibly semi-cultish rural compounds: you don't need to ascribe to an ideology to want to share chores and child-raising duties. Check out Co-Abode, a shared housing listing service for like-minded single mothers. Also, for urban areas I second craigslist - I've seen dozens of "ma/pa with kids looking for same for environmentally friendly vegan houseshare" ads in my smallish town, and larger cities with steeper living costs may have more. Additionally, look into neighborhoods with small alternative/Waldorf schools and natural foods co-ops: areas where city dwellers tend to be more supportive of atypical family arrangments. It may take some digging, but it'll be worth it - good luck!
posted by ellanea at 7:39 PM on June 13, 2006

Best answer: Cohousing Assn of the USA
posted by IndigoRain at 9:18 PM on June 13, 2006

I recently met a couple who are raising their toddler in a group house in berkeley. The mother is also involved in cooperative/shared babysitting arrangement. Each family pays four dollars and hour for babysitting, but they have to agree to do the babysitting once a week. It really seems like a great idea. Four days a week you send your kid off with four other kids to be watched by another parent. One day a week you watch all five kids and receive sixteen dolloars an hour for doing it. The group house thing seemed to work out well. The kid watched less TV because there were more people around to read or play with her while mommy cooked. Berkeley is like the only place in America where this type of thing may even be common:0)
posted by bananafish at 9:05 PM on June 14, 2006 [1 favorite]

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