Kids, work, community and change.
From: King Collins (
Date: Sun, 15 Dec 1996 19:01:03 -0600
Dear cohousing list folks:

I am reposting my comments because the cohousing list went down about the
time I made the original post, and the administrator said that some
messages were probably lost.

If this post is redundant, please accept my apology.


Responding to the dialog about kids, teens, the work they should be
expected to do, and "looking down the road."

I, too, feel that the community shares, with parents, a significant role in
raising and socializing children.  Not many of us would chose to be so
circumscribed as the Amish, but there must be much to learn from them, the
kind of people who really take family and community seriously.

The individual subjectivity (the essence of you and I) seeks to realize
itself, and understands that it can only happen collectively. How does the
child realize this? He sees how the grown-ups deal with day-to-day chores.
In most societies the child is expected (forced, if necessary) to do his
share. How else could it be? How could human beings have survived if the
family and neighborhood did not work together? Therefore, requiring
responsibility of the young seems reasonable to me. How unnatural for a
child to simply do whatever he pleases. This can only happen in an
alienated situation, but we've all seen plenty of those.

Every parent goes through this reasoning, and we do not all agree (in spite
of these authoritative statements). We take positions on a sliding scale,
and we do so without much help from any cooperative community. But that is
what we need: a community of cooperating parents--with differences about
some things and agreement about others, in constant dialog, with some
matters decided and others being decided. All this in the context of a
healthy, lively, working community of people. A tribe, as it were.

For us, now, in our partial solutions and microsituations, it is an awesome
struggle. We know we are part of an immense world on the brink of
tumultuous change, a change that absolutely must happen if we are to have
the happiness we so desire. And so many of us are tied down by work that
keeps us away from a social life that could nurture our souls and inspire
our neighborhoods. The days rush by, and still there are times when it
feels like NOTHING is happening.

Even in the best of cohousing, our solutions are partial. So much is still
alienated, labor and confusion, as we each go our separate ways to pay the

Our children witness our dissatisfaction, and they see our paltry efforts
to live together cooperatively. They feel the alienation. They see that we
are slaves to the economy. They see all that and do not yet know how
unsatisfying the rest of the world is. They dream that they can have
everything without alienation, without work, without chores.

If you are like me, you are looking hard at what is coming down, wondering
when there will be a breakthrough, when cohousing and neighborhood and work
and democracy will become a clear agenda, a comprehendible problem for a
sizable minority of our population.

We are, mostly, at the mercy of the economy which must be remade. We cannot
reinvent the society alone. And yet our efforts together, these
microexperiments in cooperative living, are practically the only place
where the crucial questions of our time (ecology, agriculture, energy,
daily life, child rearing) can clearly be posed.

And this cyberdialog, going on 24 hours a day, is a way of trying to go
beyond, "beyond the point of no return." And I dare to believe that we are
close to that point where we will witness and be a part of the remaking of
all that now confronts us as immovable object, as alienation, as
unchangeable reality.

As the situation accelerates toward crisis, it reveals ponderable problems
and solutions that are on a scale commensurate with what must be done. As
these problems and solutions become clearly visible, our life together will
become palpable, understandable, real. Then we will find that child rearing
and socialization, and many other problems, will not be such conundrums,
and more often than not, our children will be with us.

In the meantime, we carry on and hope that we, and our children, do not
lose our way.


King Collins and Joan Kelley
296 Gardens Ave.
Ukiah, CA 95482
Voice: (707) 462-4543
   Fax: (707) 462-6873
   Net: greenmac [at]

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