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Category Archives: Intentional Communities

Cohousing communities gain popularity – WDTN

Posted: February 25, 2017 at 3:41 pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) Cohousing communities are gaining popularity across the country, including right here in Music City.

Diana Sullivan gave our sister station in Nashville a tour of her cohousing development located in Germantown, Tennessee.

She has lived in the community for about a year-and-a-half.

Sullivan said she first learned about the concept of cohousing while attending a conference in Boulder, Colorado, in 2010.

It is an intentional community. We decided we wanted to have a community that was structured in a very high functioning way because research shows that these communities are very healthy and very thriving, Sullivan explained.

In Germantowns cohousing community, everyone buys their own home, but they share common spaces.

There is a playroom for children, a kitchen to enjoy meals together and extra rooms that the homeowners in the community can reserve for visiting family and friends.

We have community dinners a couple of times a week. A couple of households will become a cook team, will set our menu, buy our food and then host the dinner, said Sullivan.

By sharing meals the group is able to cut costs.

They are $5 or $6 a meal, and it is incredible food, said Sullivan.

Dot Dobbins also lives in the community. She said after her husband passed away in 2008 she began researching different living arrangements because she did not want to be alone.

Dobbins met Sullivan and decided she wanted to be part of the community. Dobbins told News 2 her grandchildren love where she lives and that they enjoy visiting her and playing in the courtyard.

Last spring and summer we had butterflies all over. It was great, it was lovely, Dobbins recalled.

When this community started there were 15 families interested in living in there. Now, there are 25 families in the cohousing development.

When you have housing that is constructed in a way that is supportive of people to reduce poverty, homelessness, reduce alcoholism and drug addiction and its just the housing structure and you can implement that its huge, said Sullivan.

In the United States, there are about 160 cohousing developments. The one in Germantown is the first of its kind in Tennessee.

Currently, there is a lot of momentum to build more of these types of developments in Nashville.

Sullivan told News 2 there is a waiting list of about 650 people who would like to move into the Germantown community.

She said an additional list of 350 people is interested in developing these types of communities in other parts of Middle Tennessee.

The national conference on cohousing will be held in Nashville this May.

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Better health needs a diverse workforce – Greenville Daily Reflector

Posted: at 3:41 pm

To correct health disparities in eastern North Carolina, providers must take on the difficult task of correcting similar disparities in the makeup of the health care workforce, according to a panel of experts speaking Friday at East Carolina University.

The 13th annualJean Elaine Mills Health Symposium, named for the late ECU alumna and community health administrator who died of breast cancer in 2000, focuses on building partnerships between residents, organizations and ECU faculty and students with the aim of reducing health disparities higher incidences of illness and death in one population group than another.

Where such disparities exist, similar disparities will be found in the workforce population, the educators said. The participants addressed the need for health care workforce equity, which allows care providers to better reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.

This symposium is all about student success, community outreach and the transformation of Eastern North Carolina, event moderator Dean Robert Orlikoff of the ECUCollege of Allied Health Sciences, which hosted the daylong symposium, said.Frankly, we have a long way to go. We have to not only serve that community, but be a part of it. Our health care workers must be representative of the communities that they work in and serve.

Beth Velde,assistant dean for special projects at the college and Mills Symposium director, said the symposium is a community/university partnership that does things with, rather than for or to, the communities it serves.

The symposium featured a panel discussion and keynote presentations by Dr. Kendall Campbell, associate dean for diversity and inclusion and director of the Research Group for Underrepresented Minorities in Academic Medicine at East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine, and Dr. Brenda E. Armstrong, associate dean for admissions at the Duke University School of Medicine.

Amos Mills, who founded the symposium in his late sisters memory, said most people do not understand that health care disparities affect all people across racial, cultural and political lines.

North Carolina should not rank 43rd in the U.S. for health care disparities while it ranks 10th in manufacturing, Mills said.I hope we will bring what we learn to the greater community so we can break down some of the barriers that exist in this state. I fear for the future if we dont address this problem now.

Campbell described equality as giving everybody the same things.

I decided that Im going to buy everybody here a new pair of shoes… and theyre all going to be Size 6, he said.

Equity, on the other hand, provides what someone needs based on an assessment of that persons specific needs, Campbell said.

Campbell quoted Dr. Camara Jones, president of the American Public Health Association,whose work focuses on the impacts of racism on the health and well-being of the nation.

Achieving health equity requires valuing all individuals and populations equally, recognizing and rectifying historical injustices, and providing resources according to need, Jones said. Based on that, healthcare workforce equity assures conditions that allow for the best possible health for all people.

Campbell said action must be intentional to correct the current system that structures health care workforce opportunity based on social interpretation of how a person looks. Such systems including sexism, classism and racism are institutionally designed to separate and unfairly disadvantage some people while giving an unfair advantage to others.

The solution to institutional inequity is diversity, Campbell said.

Student and faculty diversity is indispensable for quality medical education, he said.Diversity of the physician workforce improves access to care for underserved populations; diversity of the research workforce can accelerate advances in medical and public health research; and diversity among managers of health care is good business sense.

Contact Michael Abramowitz at mabramowitz@reflector.comor 252-329-9507.

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Column: Community will miss Rev. Irwin’s impact – Wicked Local Waltham

Posted: February 24, 2017 at 6:45 pm

By Rev. Tom Maehl

Waltham is transient city with people coming and going with regularity. Mostly people who leave do so with little fanfare. Seldom do we stop to publicly say thank you and good-bye.

The Rev. Sara Irwin, who as served Christ Episcopal Church in Waltham for the past 11 years, is leaving. In early March, she and her family will move to Pittsburg where new opportunities for ministry await them. For those in the congregation she serves, this brings a measure of sadness and she will be dearly missed. For the rest of the city, this will go by mostly unnoticed.

I am a colleague of Saras and as such I will say thank you and good-bye privately. Yet I am also a citizen of Waltham, a person who cares deeply for this city in which I live, work and am raising my children. It is in that capacity that I wish to celebrate and offer public gratitude for her leadership.

First and foremost what I celebrate is the enduring presence of Christ Episcopal Church! In the 17 years in Waltham, I have watched as many older established faith communities have closed. I used to be able to count the number on one hand, now I need two. I am aware that Christ Episcopal was heading in that direction having endured years of decline. Without some sort of change, this newspaper may have had yet another front page story about a congregation closure, instead of this back page thank you note.

Over the time that the Rev. Sara Irwin has served the congregation has significantly grown. As I see it, this has come through a combination of good pastoral leadership, radical hospitality and the intentional welcome of children and young adults.

As a person of faith who values not only my own faith tradition but others, I am grateful that big fieldstone building across the street from the public library is housing another vibrant congregation, instead of say luxury housing or office space. So thank you Sara for being there for your congregation, and for your care-filled leadership that has been instrumental in ensuring that for years to come the diverse, faithful congregation you have served will continue to be there for others.

Thank you also for your care of others beyond the congregation you serve. Thanks to you and the people of Christ Episcopal for your diaper depot providing a measure of relief for lower income families. Thanks for your care of persons struggling with homeless, addiction and domestic violence. Thanks for your advocacy on behalf of the marginalized and for your cheerful willingness to collaborate with other faith traditions and communities, including my own. It is a blessing.

The Rev. Tom Maehl is the pastor of First Lutheran Church in Waltham

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Cohousing communities gain popularity, including here in Nashville –

Posted: at 6:45 pm
Cohousing communities gain popularity, including here in Nashville
It is an intentional community. We decided we wanted to have a community that was structured in a very high functioning way because research shows that these communities are very healthy and very thriving, Sullivan explained. In Germantown's


Cohousing communities gain popularity, including here in Nashville –

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The Christian Retreat From Public Life – The Atlantic

Posted: February 23, 2017 at 1:33 pm

Donald Trump was elected president with the help of 81 percent of white evangelical voters. Mike Pence, the champion of Indianas controversial 2015 religious-freedom law, is his deputy. Neil Gorsuch, a judge deeply sympathetic to religious litigants, will likely be appointed to the Supreme Court. And Republicans hold both chambers of Congress and statehouses across the country. Right now, conservative Christians enjoy more influence on American politics than they have in decades.

And yet, Rod Dreher is terrified.

Dont be fooled, he tells fellow Christians in his new book, The Benedict Option. The upset presidential victory of Donald Trump has at best given us a bit more time to prepare for the inevitable.

Seeking an Escape From Trumps America

The last few years have confirmed an extraordinary cultural shift against conservative Christian beliefs, he argues, particularly with the rise of gay rights and legalization of same-sex marriage. Christians who hold to the biblical teaching about sex and marriage have the same status in culture, and increasingly in law, as racists, he writes. Their future will become increasingly grim, he predicts, with lost jobs, bullying at school, and name-calling in the streets.

This, Dreher says, is the inevitable fate for which Christians must prepare.

There was a time when Christian thinkers like Dreher, who writes for The American Conservative, might have prepared to fight for cultural and political control. Dreher, however, sees this as futile. Could it be that the best way to fight the flood is to stop fighting the flood? he asks. Rather than wasting energy and resources fighting unwinnable political battles, we should instead work on building communities, institutions, and networks of resistance that can outwit, outlast, and eventually overcome the occupation. This strategic withdrawal from public life is what he calls the Benedict option.

Drehers proposal is as remarkable as his fear. It is a radical rejection of the ties between Christianity and typical forms of power, from Republican politics to market-driven wealth. Instead, Dreher says, Christians should embrace pluralism, choosing to fortify their own communities and faith as one sub-culture among many in the United States.

But it is a vision that will not be easily achieved. Conservative Christianity no longer sets the norms in American culture, and transitioning away from a position of dominance to a position of co-existence will require significant adjustment, especially for a people who believe so strongly in evangelism. Even if that happens, there are always challenges at the boundaries of sub-cultures. Its not clear that Dreher has a clear vision of how Christians should engage with those they disagree withespecially the LGBT Americans they blame for pushing them out of mainstream culture.

The Benedict option is not a new proposal. Dreher has been tossing around this idea for roughly a decade, drawing from Alasdair McIntyres argument that continued full participation in mainstream society [is] not possible for those who [want] to live a life of traditional virtue. It takes its name from St. Benedict of Nursia, the sixth-century priest who created a network of contemplative monasteries in the Italian mountains and inspired generations of monks to seek lives of quiet reflection and prayer.

Americans have come to rely on middle-class comfort That is the way of spiritual death.

Dreher is not suggesting everyday Christians live in poverty and seclusion. Were not called to be monks. Monks are called to be monks, he told me in an interview. What we have to do is have a limited retreat from the world into our own institutions and communities. While some might see this as a means of running away from culture, Dreher argued that the Benedict option is not about bunkering down and waiting for the end times. Its about building ourselves up spiritually, he said, so we can go out in the world and be who Christ asked us to be.

The first step, he says, is to recognize that politics will not save us. While many Christians have sought defenders and champions in the Republican Party, including Trump, Dreher is skeptical of this model. Neither partys program is fully consistent with Christian truth, he argues.

Instead of looking to elected officials to create their communities, he says, Christians should do it themselves. This means getting involved: Feast with your neighbors, he writes, or join the volunteer fire department. It requires [seceding] culturally from the mainstream, including turning off smartphones and watching only movies and television that are consonant with Christian values. It even means deprioritizing work in favor of richer communal life. Given how much Americans have come to rely on middle-class comfort, freedom, and stability, Christians will be sorely tempted to say or do anything asked of us to hold onto what we have, he writes. That is the way of spiritual death.

This emphasis on localism extends to worship life. Prayer should guide the rhythms of the day and week, he says. Christians should view church as an opportunity to build communities and find fellowship, not just pray on their own. Even living in close proximity to church can help, he says. When the Orthodox Christian parish in Drehers small Louisiana town closed, his family moved to Baton Rouge. We knew that there would be no way to practice our faith properly in community while living so far from the church, he writes.

Above all, Dreher advocates institution building. He encourages his readers to pull their children out of public school and enroll them in classical Christian schools, praising a model developed in part by the North Carolina-based CiRCE Institute. Such curricula, which can be used by teachers or homeschooling parents, covers the canonical Western texts alongside the Bible, sometimes in direct cooperation with churches. Dreher envisions a more robust and sustainable Christian system of higher education, but for now, many students have created intentional communities on their campuses where they can live according to their shared interpretation of the Bible.

The Sexual Revolution has [deposed] an enfeebled Christianity.

As Dreher notes, a number of these practices are already embraced by other religious communities. We Christians have a lot to learn from Modern Orthodox Jews, he told me in an interview. Many of Drehers suggestions appear to echo Orthodox Jewish life, including daily prayers, restrictions on diet and work, and extensive educational networks. They have had to live in a way thats powerfully counter-cultural in American life and rooted in thick community and ancient traditions, he said. And yet, they manage to do it.

This comparison is telling about how Dreher perceives the status of Christians in American society. Jews make up less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, and Modern Orthodox Jews are a tiny minority within that groupPew estimates that they account for 3 percent of all American Jews, or roughly .06 percent of Americans. While its impossible to estimate the exact number of Americans who would identify with the ecumenical, theologically conservative Christianity Dreher describes, it is far bigger than the number of Modern Orthodox Jews.

It seems as though Dreher is saying that Christians need to be ready to live as religious minorities. But he fails to acknowledge an important distinction between the two groups, beyond mere size. Jews act like a counter-cultural, marginalized group because theyve been that way for two millenniapowerless, small in number, at odds with the broader cultures of the places where theyve lived. The American conservatives Dreher is addressing, on the other hand, are coming from a place of power. For many years, they dictated the legal and cultural terms of non-Christians lives. The Benedict option is relevant precisely because America is becoming more religiously fractured, and Christianity is no longer the cultural default.

Dreher is not embracing this fact, or even accepting it peaceably. His work is largely a project of lament. He speaks about Christianity in apocalyptic terms: the Sexual Revolution has [deposed] an enfeebled Christianity as the Ostrogoths deposed the hapless last emperor of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century, and the greatest danger to Christians in the West comes from the liberal secular order itself. He prophesies dire scenarios for Christians in America: We are on the brink of entire areas of commercial and professional life being off-limits to believers whose consciences will not allow them to burn incense to the gods of our age, he says, warning that young Christians who dream of becoming doctors or lawyers may have to abandon that hope.

As a Christian, I dont see my sexuality as constitutive of who I am.

Most importantly, he writes with resentment, largely directed at those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender and their supportersthe people, he believes, who have pushed Christians out of the public sphere.

We are on the far side of a Sexual Revolution that has been nothing short of catastrophic for Christianity, he writes:

This has had far-reaching consequences in all spheres of life. In the professional world, sexual diversity dogma is pervasive, he writesan attempt by companies to demonstrate progress to gay-rights campaigners. In the future, everyone working for a major corporation will be frog-marched through diversity and inclusion training, he says, and will face pressure not simply to tolerate LGBT co-workers but to affirm their sexuality and gender identity.

In politics and culture, we in the modern West are living under barbarism, though we do not recognize it, he writes. Our scientists, our judges, our princes, our scholars, and our scribesthey are at work demolishing the faith, the family, gender, even what it means to be human.

And in the education world, public schools by nature are on the front lines of the latest and worst trends in popular culture, he writes. Under pressure from the federal government and LGBT activists, many school systems are now welcoming and normalizing transgenderism. He cites scores of parents whose children come home professing bisexuality and offering a lot of babble about gender being fluid and nonbinary, as one of his readers put it. Few parents have the presence of mind and strength of character to do whats necessary to protect their children from the forms of disordered sexuality accepted by mainstream American youth culture, he writes.

Nothing in this language suggests that Dreher is ready to live tolerantly alongside people with different views. If progressives wrote about the Bible as a lot of babble about Jesus and God, using language similar to that of the parent Dreher cites, he would be quick to cry foul against the ignorance and intolerance of the left; his language is dismissive and mocking, and he peppers in conspiratorial terms like the LGBT agenda. At times, it seems like the goal of the Benedict option is just as much about getting away from gay people as it is affirming the tenets of Christianity. The book seems to suggest that mere proximity to people with alternative beliefs about sexuality, and specifically LGBT people, is a threat to Christian children and families.

These lives pose the question Dreher has not engaged: How should Christians be in fellowship with people unlike them?

Of course, it will be impossible for conservative Christians to fully escape any aspect of mainstream culture, including people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans. In fact, many of those people grew up in Christian households much like Drehers, or may identify with the feelings of cultural homelessness he describes. Their lives implicitly pose the hard question Dreher has failed to engage: How should Christians be in fellowship with people unlike themincluding those who feel aggrieved by the church and its teachings?

To his credit, Dreher nods to this, ever so briefly. The angry vehemence with which many gay activists condemn Christianity is rooted in part in the cultural memory of rejection and hatred by the church, he writes. Christians need to own up to our past in this regard and to repent of it. He does little to specify these past errors, though, and he never tries to answer the broader question: how Christians can live as one people among many in America without learning how to respect and relate to those who challenge their beliefs.

Its not hard to understand Drehers frustration and disorientation about Americas tectonic cultural shift. For many in the United States, sexuality has become so entwined with identity, he observed to me in conversation. This is what yields the comparisons to race: People who view sexuality as a fact of their identity may see Drehers beliefs as analogous to racism. But as a Christian, Dreher told me, I dont see my sexuality as constitutive of who I am. He is working from a different frame of reference, one that is increasingly out of step with Americans ways of thinking about culture. The fear winding through his narrative is anxious anticipation of a future when fewer and fewer public spaces will be open to people like him.

And yet, Dreher begrudges a similar fear in people unlike him, including LGBT people who have long wanted to live freely in publicsomething that was largely impossible when conservative Christians dominated mainstream American life. From this vantage, his Benedict option seems less a proposal for pluralism than the angry backwards fire of a culture in retreat.

Dreher wrote The Benedict Option for people like himthose who share his faith, convictions, and feelings of cultural alienation. But even those who might wish to join Drehers radical critique of American culture, people who also feel pushed out and marginalized by shallowness of modern life, may feel unable to do so. Many people, including some Christians, feel that knowing, befriending, playing with, and learning alongside people who are different from them adds to their faith, not that it threatens it. For all their power and appeal, Drehers monastery walls may be too high, and his mountain pass too narrow.

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In ‘The Unsettlers,’ Mark Sundeen looks for lives well lived | Books … – Missoula Independent

Posted: at 1:33 pm

Mark Sundeen, as his books attest, is a seeker. His novel Car Camping chased enlightenment through travel and came up with comedy. The Making of Toro was a meta (and also pretty comic) quest, identified right there in the subtitle, for the authorial “acclaim he deserves.” The Man Who Quit Money projected his seeking onto another seeker, Daniel Suelo, a man refusing the shackles of currency in an attempt to create a better way to live in the world.

With The Unsettlers, he’s zoomed out from the micro of Suelo’s search and into the encompassing big-picture: What might it mean, and how might it work, to live well?

It’s a timeless question, and it’s also a zeitgeisty one. Why do Trump supporters want to make America great again? Because they don’t think America is very great right now. Why are progressives always complaining about everything? Because progressivism is built on the belief that the-way-things-are can always be improved on. Either way, whichever ideology gives the search shape, it’s self-improvement that we’re ultimately after, and America, from Gatsby to Oprah, has never been short of self-improvement strategies.

And maybe that’s because Americans are so often disappointed. Baked into the idea that the good life requires a search is the premise that the life we’re already livingright here and right nowisn’t it. (Also baked into any quest to “live well” is the privilege implied by the phrase’s second worda privilege Sundeen does well to acknowledge and navigate).

Sundeen blessedly skips the rhetorical bother of building a case or even identifying a cause for the nagging imperfectness of the world, but he convincingly sketches the shadows thrown on human satisfaction by the numbing bombardments of what we’re probably safe in oversimplifying as late-stage capitalism: disconnection from community, dependence on institutional injustice and the commodification of fulfillment.

Ostensibly incited by the compromises and opportunities of a new marriage, and armed with a skeptic’s suspicion that he might harbor room for some self-improvement of his own, Sundeen hits the road in search of anyone who looks like they might have figured it all out.

His thematic roadmap, as his title suggests, is Wendell Berry’s 1978 classic The Unsettling of America. That book made Berry’s agriculture-centric case that the growing cultural distance in America between livelihood and land accompanies and probably causes a whole host of ills (like disconnection from community, dependence on institutional injustice and the commodification of fulfillment). Racism, sexism, addiction, appetite for destructionall, in Berry’s scheme, are part and parcel of the country’s tilt away from Jeffersonian farmdom and toward rootless cosmopolitanism.

That map steers Sundeen toward the landed. First in Missouri, where an idealistic young car-foregoing couple scrapes together enough cash to start the latest in a long American line of intentional communities in flyover country, where water is plentiful, land is cheap, and building codes are lax. Then in Detroit, where an urban farming movement has established itself in the ruins of a gutted industrial powerhouse. And finally in Montana, where Sundeen, a former Missoula resident, turns away from such upstarts to see if anyone has managed to make a good lifewith all its deprivations and difficult choiceslast. He finds that sustained integrity inspoiler alertVictor, where Steve Elliot and Luci Brieger have spent the last 30-plus years building their good life at Lifeline Farm.

If Sundeen’s subjects’ attempts to live in harmony with land connects them, so does the fact that they are, or become, couples. The good life in Sundeen’s sights is clearly built for, if not by, two. This choice of paired characters has the happy effect of making each of Sundeen’s vignettes also a love story of sorts, which provides him a nice prism through which to view his own coming to terms with marriage, after what he presents as a thoroughly bachelorized life beforehand.

It’s probably not giving too much away to note that Sundeen eventually decides that the life of ethical denial and honest toil that drives his characters isn’t really for him, as much as he’s intellectually attracted to the idea. Sundeen’s searching ultimately leads him not back to the land, but to a reaffirmation of his own “practice,” which is research and writingthe acts of creation that brought us this book. There’s even a nice little love story of his own tucked away in the realization. And good thing he recognizes it, too. This fallen world has quite enough wannabe farmers, and long may they thrive. But it’s frankly hard to imagine the bunch of carrots, however lovingly husbanded, that would be more nourishing than the body of work Sundeen is building.

Mark Sundeen reads from The Unsettlers at Shakespeare & Co. Mon., Feb. 27, at 7 PM.

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St. Louis Park cohousing community welcomes home all ages – Minneapolis Star Tribune

Posted: February 22, 2017 at 4:30 am

The scene might resemble an extended familys Thanksgiving dinner roaring fire in the hearth, soft music, delicious food smells, people of several generations eating and talking except that the main dishes on the buffet table are baked salmon and a colorful salad, and most of the people are not related to one another.

Its an ordinary Thursday at the Monterey Cohousing Community in St. Louis Park, one of two nights a week that the communitys residents gather for dinner.

Cohousing communities such as Monterey, sometimes called intentional communities, are groups of people who occupy a single housing development. Residents typically have their own fully equipped apartments or condominiums but gather in common indoor and outdoor areas for meals, meetings, shared projects or ordinary conversation.

People who want time alone can find privacy in their own units. Those who want company can usually find it often spontaneously. Residents work together to maintain the building and grounds, take turns cooking meals and perform other needed tasks.

The everyday functioning of this place brings people together, said Monika Stumpf.

At 76, Stumpf is Montereys oldest resident. She became involved in its founding in 1991 for very simple reasons, she said. Having grown up in a multigenerational household, she missed casual interaction with others.

I didnt like living in apartments, or even when I lived in a house where I didnt know the neighbors and the neighbors didnt necessarily want to be involved or even say hello, she said. That drove me crazy.

Joelyn Malone, 66, a Monterey resident for 21 years, had a similar experience, having grown up on a Nebraska farm among aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. When I moved to the city, I was so lonely, she said.

Minnesotans notorious social reserve made things worse. Everybody was still best friends with the people they went to first grade with.

There are hundreds of cohousing communities around the country (and many more around the world). A few, like Monterey, date back to the 1980s and 90s, but most have popped up since 2000. Minnesota has only two so far (the other a small community in Rushford). At least a couple of others are in the works, with groups formed to make plans and search for sites.

Monterey is relatively small as cohousing communities go, with 29 people in 15 households, including younger and older adults and a handful of children. The development includes a brick mansion built in 1924 that houses common areas and some individual homes, and a cluster of newer condominiums next door.

Joey Baity and Heather Garrett-Baity are among several residents in their mid-30s. They moved in about a year ago with their now-6-year-old daughter, Keightyn. They didnt set out to find cohousing they needed a place to live, and came across Monterey but they felt at home right away. On the day they moved in, residents rushed to welcome them, help carry boxes or offer gifts of food.

We love it; its great, Garrett-Baity said. We want to stay and die here.

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St. Louis Park cohousing community welcomes home all ages – Minneapolis Star Tribune

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South Side getting trauma center, but it’ll be far more than just an emergency room – Fox 32 Chicago

Posted: at 4:30 am

FOX 32 NEWS – For years, residents of Chicagos South Side have clamored for a Level One Trauma Center to treat the victims of violence that has plagued so many of their neighborhoods.

Now, they’re getting one at the University of Chicago in Hyde Park. But it’ll be far more than just an emergency room.

From the outside it doesn’t look like much, yet. Two floors of a campus parking garage are being converted into a Level One Trauma Center at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

But in a community of big thinkers, the man in charge of this new emergency room is thinking big.

“I think we have an excellent opportunity to do two things. To start up a level one trauma center to provide care for the communities of the South Side, but also to actively partner with the community to address this seeming epidemic of intentional violence, said Rauma Center Director Dr. Selwyn Rogers.

Dr. Selwyn Rogers is a medical superstar. Born poor in the Virgin Islands, educated at Harvard Medical School and now a nationally-recognized trauma surgeon, Rogers was handpicked by the university not just to patch up victims of violence but to try to prevent that violence from happening in the first place.

“If you think of violence as a disease, it’s not a disease of people in that traditional flu-like disease. It’s a disease of communities, Dr. Rogers said.

Many of those communities are on Chicagos South Side where for years, residents and activists had been demanding a trauma center where so much of the trauma is occurring.

When it opens next year, the new University of Chicago emergency room will be able to handle an additional 25-thousand patient visits a year.

“We want to create a model for what a 21st Century trauma center can be, said Derek Douglas of University of Chicago.

Douglas is the university’s vice president for civic engagement. He admits for many years the U of C was regarded at as an ivory-tower island on the South Side. But he says the new trauma center offers an opportunity to tap the brilliant minds of all the university’s disciplines such as law, economics and sociology in coming up with strategies to combat the violence plaguing neighborhoods next door.

The university has not looked at this issue as something that there’s one department now that’s gonna be there solving it on its own. Theyve looked at this as something that could bring the whole university together to try to contribute to this pressing problem, Douglas said.

Since arriving on campus last month, Dr. Rogers has been on a listening tour of the South Side, meeting with community groups and churches, even in barber shops.

“We have an opportunity to listen actively to the community, and partnering with them to try to better understand how we as a health system or as a doctor can make a difference, Rogers said.

Rogers says to understand what’s going wrong, you have to study what goes right. Why do so many kids growing up in violent neighborhoods make it out alive and thrive?

“For me personally growing up relatively poor in the Virgin Islands, that’s a source of my strength. That informs some of my drive. That informs some of my social justice. That informs some of my desire to make a difference. Without it, I’m not sure I’d be here, Rogers said.

The University of Chicagos trauma center is scheduled to be ready to open in the spring of 2018.

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Best approach to panhandlers? Ignore them – Richmond Register

Posted: at 4:30 am

Editors note: The Registers parent company, Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., has papers all over the United States. Each Wednesday, this space will be dedicated to what one of those papers thinks about the issues facing their communities.

In striking down Lexingtons anti-panhandling law, the Kentucky Supreme Court has further clarified what local governments can do to discourage individuals from begging: very little.

Despite the societal stigma associated with panhandling, this form of expression is widely considered to be constitutionally protected speech, Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. said in the decision.

Its a decision that likely kills similar ordinances across the state, including the one in Louisville Metro that imposes a $250 fine, 90 days in jail, or both for those who aggressively beg for money in public.

The landmark ruling also said it is unconstitutional for city officials to treat individuals who carry signs begging for money differently from others, such as those with religious messages such as Jesus Loves You.

The only thing distinguishing these two people is the content of their messages, Minton wrote.

The ruling does provide guidance to local governments about what they can and cannot do to discourage panhandling. Nearly every city in Kentucky, including Ashland, has debated ways to limit individuals from begging.

The case before the state Supreme Court was brought by attorneys for Dennis Champion, 58, who has been cited or arrested more than 550 times for begging, illegal solicitations and disorderly conduct since 2004 in Lexington and Louisville, according to court records.

Defending the Lexington ordinance, which carried a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail, a $100 fine, or both, the Fayette County attorneys office said the city had a compelling interest in pedestrians not being struck by motorists and in the efficient flow of traffic. But the 14-page ruling said Lexington officials failed to show panhandlers were responsible for traffic delays or accidents.

A decade ago, Louisvilles Metro Council enacted an anti-begging law saying there was an increase in aggressive solicitation in downtown and throughout the city that had become extremely disturbing and disruptive to residents and businesses. The ordinance says certain types of panhandling has contributed not only to the loss of access and enjoyment of public places, but also to an enhanced fear, intimidation and disorder.

It was primarily a response to people who (were) getting up in folks faces, not leaving them alone and demanding money, Democratic caucus spokesman Tony Hyatt said. Louisville has defined aggressive solicitation as repetitively approaching or following pedestrians despite refusals, the use of abusive or profane language to cause fear and intimidation, unwanted physical contact, or the intentional blocking of vehicular and pedestrian traffic. It specifically forbids such behavior within 20 feet of an automated teller machine, an outdoor dining area or a bus stop.

The high courts ruling does provide a legal road map to how cities could regulate beggars and that appears to favor Louisvilles ordinance. Minton wrote that Lexington could prohibit all individuals from approaching stopped motorists, which he said targets the behavior a city seeks to prohibit rather than why a person steps into traffic.

The new Supreme Court ruling makes it clear panhandlers have the right to beg, but that does not mean anyone must give them anything. In fact, we think the best way for people to respond panhandlers is to not give them anything to make begging worth their time.

The Daily Independent, Ashland

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J Mase III of #BlackTransMagick seeks to redistribute resources – Daily Illini

Posted: February 20, 2017 at 7:34 pm

Photo Courtesy of Windy City Med

J Mase III performs on Dec. 26th. The poet and activist will be featured Monday at the Women’s Resources Center as part of #BlackTransMagick.

J Mase III and Vita E partnered up to create #BlackTransMagick in 2015, and have traveled around the country performing on college campuses and for community organizations since then.

The duo is scheduled to perform at 12 p.m. on Monday at the Womens Resources Center as part of the Office of Inclusion & Intercultural Relations Lunch on Us weekly discussion series.

The Daily Illini talked to J Mase III over the weekend about the importance of inclusionary spaces on college campuses.

J Mase III: #BlackTransMagick originated through myself and Vita, we are part of the administrative team for an organization called awQward. awQward is a trans and queer people of color specific talent agency we use the acronym TQPOC. Were both performers and we had an opportunity that kind of showed up through us doing some outreach and talking about the organization in probably June of 2015, so about two years ago. I was scheduled to perform with another awQward artist who fell sick. Vita was still new to the (organization) and we had never performed together. We put it together fairly quickly and had only about one hour to rehearse. We just started creating material from that.

JM: Primarily we perform at colleges and universities. We also do some community organizations and things like that. I think for us, what our major goal is with #BlackTransMagick, as well as with awQward, is really about the redistribution of resources from larger institutions to black and brown trans, queer folks. We use art as a way to create space for cooperative economics, so thats part of it. We also try to provide our work free to smaller black and brown organizations and institutions, or at a low cost, so that we can still be in the communities that know us and help to facilitate our work.

JM: I think whats important for most people, especially on college campuses to recognize, is that the resources in colleges and universities are very much stolen from communities of color. Even in spaces doing LGBTQ work and/or other social justice-centered practices. The institution as a whole when we talk about the land that institutions take up, when we talk about the money that institutions have theres no such thing as creating wealth in the United States of America without taking that from black and brown people through our bodies and labor. And so its important because its a redistribution of those resources back to the spaces from which they were stolen. Its also when we talk about being inclusive of LGBTQ folks, the people in the LGBTQ community most likely to be impacted by violence, lack of access to education, lack of access to jobs, are trans and queer people of color. So its being more honest about who is impacted by these situations. So it behooves people to be honest when they say theyre trying to create intersectional spaces that are rooted in social justice.

JM: I dont know that its something that cant be accomplished through (either) platform, I think that we tend to take different routes of understanding based on the medium. So theres something that I can explain to you intellectually, so you know it. But, through art we actually feel something and were compelled to do something about it. Intellectually, I know that my life as a black person and a trans person is important, but its through art that I actually felt that it mattered.

JM: Everyone is welcome, but what we do specifically is center the experiences of black and brown trans, queer folks of color. I think for me, and I cant speak for Vita, I know for myself a lot of times, people try to tell me Oh, your work is to help people who are not like you learn how to accept you. Thats not what my work is about. My work is Im a black, trans, Muslim person on this planet, and for a long time, I didnt know I had a right to space. So my commitment is to create space for myself and for people in my community, to take up intentional space and take back resources from institutions that seek to erase us. So I encourage TQPOC folks to come, I encourage folks who want to be in solidarity with TQPOC folks to come.

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J Mase III of #BlackTransMagick seeks to redistribute resources – Daily Illini

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