5 Effective Ways To Establish Community

Last week we talked about the meaning of community. We decided that community truly is (or to the best of my understanding) any group sharing something in common.

Photo courtesy of Guillaume Dutihl of Tiny House Giant Journey.

Photo courtesy of Guillaume Dutilh of Tiny House Giant Journey.

My wife and I both grew up in relatively stable households. Although both sets of our parents had seen divorce, remarriage, and (eventually) blended family units, we never felt like we were social outcasts. We both had opportunities to go on family vacations, our holidays were full of people coming and going, and we were encouraged to communicate and share in a number of situations. We both knew community and knew that it offered some key elements:

  • Happiness. Hardly a day went by that we didn’t laugh and tell jokes and sing songs. Smiles were commonplace in our homes.
  • Perspective. We realized quickly that the world didn’t revolved around us and that there were others to consider.
  • Encouragement. Our parents participated in PTAs, scouts, church, etc. They rallied behind us when we hit home runs and when we struck out. Most of all they were there to remind us that tomorrow was another day.
  • Responsibility. We both learned early on that we had to work to keep up our houses and that even the smallest of efforts was needed to keep things running smoothly.
  • Accountability. To be successful you need to know that for every action there is a reaction.

It has become disheartening these last few years though as we have seen our nieces and nephews, friends and relatives, and others disregard the need for community. With the advent of the Internet and with the unbelievable growth of social media we hardly have to interact with each other on a day-to-day basis. Retail locations have self-checkout (no baggers any longer). Banks allows you to deposit checks be TXTing a photo. Trips to grandmothers house have been replaced with Facetime conversations. Donations and tithing can be done online with linked bank accounts. Even vacations can be planned down to the meal with online reservations.

But that does not mean that community is not necessary. In fact in his 1887 thesis Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies outlined two types of community or more specifically human association. The first is Gemeinschaft which is translated to mean ‘community’ and the second is Gessellschaft which translates to ‘society’ or ‘association.’ As he explores these two Tönnies makes a point to say that no group is wholly Gemeinschaft or wholly Gessellschaft. In fact, he details why humans need a healthy mix of the two. His writing though is is theoretical though and lacks a practical application. Not once does he answer the question of how to obtain community without sacrificing “me” time or upsetting the G und G balance. Hopefully these 5 ways will help you:

  1. Faith-Based. If you are spiritual or religious consider joining a group filled with like-minded people. A number of RV parks offer non-denominational chapel services as well as some small groups or Bible studies. You can also find a local church while on the road that welcomes you and gives you a familiar feeling. As a tiny houser who is parked you may want to check out local churches, synogogues, temples, or the like. If nothing else it will be worth the coffee talk before hand and the handshakes after.
  2. Munchies. Make food. Invite others over to share in it. Have a happy hour at your house or in your backyard. “Breaking bread” is a fantastic way to meet and converse with people.
  3. Presence. Take on a roll of being a friend who others know they can count on or even call up to talk to. It may inconvenience you at time but it is such a simple way to engage. You can also check out local mentoring options. I know at our local public library there is a group of reading mentors who once a week volunteer with other adults to read to school-age children. Don’t leave these things up to someone else. It may never get done!
  4. Network. Networking has become such a corporate term in the last few years that many of us have forgotten that the definition is – quite simply – a group or system of interconnected people or things. It is being part of a group of like-minded folks. Events are just the physical manifestation of those networks. I immediately think of the tiny house Meetup groups held in Boston, Boise, and south Florida, where like-minded folks can meet each other and talk tiny despite their other affiliations. From these sort of events are born authentic friendships.
  5. Family Tree. A large part of the tiny house life and the nomad life is spent focusing on relationships. It is about cultivating the love you have for your family and the love they share with you. I can remember quite well when my parents stopped being just my folks and started also being my friends. That meant a great deal to me and to them and we learned to cherish each other thereby increasing the value of our time together.
  6. BONUS: Walking. Seems simple enough, right? Put one foot in front of the other. But when you commit to walking, be it your neighborhood, your campground, or even a local park, you are more than likely going to encounter others. If you add talking to your walking you may just end up walking away with a new community!

In what ways to do you work to increase community? How does it make you feel? Can you imagine a life without community?

By Andrew M. Odom for the [Tiny House Blog]

Jay Shafer Workshop

Jay Shafer

Jay Shafer – Photo: sfgate.com

I want to present a local workshop for Bay Area Meetups – Jay Shafer

October 4th, 2014, Graton, CA

There’s a lot of erroneous building information being bandied about in the small house world these days, and half of it originated with me. When I designed and built my first tiny house I knew virtually nothing. Now, it seems like I know almost all there is to know about wee abodes and little about anything else. It pains me to see folks building big problems into their little houses because they got some bad information from someone who seemed like they knew what they were talking about.

Because I am limiting the gig to 6 1/2 hours plus another hour 1/2 for lunch in the middle and hosting at my place in Graton (near Sebastopol, CA), I can swing it for $140 per person, instead of the usual higher rate. As an added bonus, we could spend the last 40 minutes of the day touring my tiny house. And BA says she will open her tiny house for tour for 30 minutes in the morning.

I’d cover building, design and regulations, and there will be a lot of time for Q&A, since the barrage of questions I was getting at Alek’s recent gig is what spurred this idea in the first place. I won’t limit the event to just Bay Area Meetup people, but that is likely where the bulk of folks would probably be coming from. I’ll send this idea off to the East Bay Claustrophiles now too. Anyone is welcome to attend, however.

I’m looking forward to this workshop format – local and more casual than my usual workshops.

Sign Up Here!

Thank you!

Jay Shafer

Allotment Sheds

The British concept of allotments might be foreign to most Americans. These small garden plots are temporary, but that doesn’t stop many gardeners from building their own creative allotment sheds—many of which could become a tiny house, as it happened to this man a few years ago.

lavender-leeks-shed

An allotment garden, or just allotment, is a small plot in a community garden given to a group or individual for growing food plants. The gardens are granted for a short amount of time and are rotated through different paid memberships. The term victory garden, coined in World War I and II, can also be used for these small (usually between 500-5,000 square feet) plots of land. Allotments are utilized in many countries including Denmark and Sweden, the Czech Republic, Russia and Greece.

While allotments and their sheds are not for residential purposes, many sheds built to house tools and other garden implements become temporary homes for gardeners as they work on their land. These sheds will sometimes have small wood stoves to keep gardeners warm in some of the rainy, cold weather that plagues Northern Europe. Other sheds have seating and tables, cots for napping and small camping stoves or a storm kettle to stir up some fresh garden fare. What is also fun and unusual is how creative some people can get with their sheds by using recycled materials or whatever is lying around the allotment.

katie-lane-allotment

The lovely Katie Lane gardens, cooks and eats at her allotment with a storm kettle and a small gas stove and oven. She writes about her adventures on Plot 15c on her blog, Lavender and Leeks. She even gives us a peak into her “girly” shed on YouTube.

 

Robs-Shed-2

This allotment shed is made from recycled pallets. This website gives you tips on how to build an allotment shed.

cleve-west-sculptu_2000252i

Skansens koloniträdgård

allotment-shed

allotment-shed-greece

English-pride-shed

 

Photos by Wikimedia, The Telegraph, Mary Ellen Garden, Democracy Street, Rule Brittania

 

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]