TV in the Common House ...Horrors! or Blessing?
From: Peggy MacLeod (sunravenmediaone.net)
Date: Tue, 8 Jan 2002 14:05:02 -0700 (MST)
I'm from Pathways Cohousing in Western Mass - 27 households.  We've been
in residence for almost 2 years but we have only had a completed common
house for one year.

Although we had some struggles with the issue, several things brought
about our having a TV in the CH.
1. We still aren't filling the CH with activity as much as we expected,
even after a year.  

2.  Even during the Sept 11 tragedy, we all were glued to the news,
mostly in isolation with our own families, or worse --- in total
isolation if single (as 6 older women are here).  During some of that
isolation, I went into a very deep depression, mainly from seeing the
word "War" on the screen at all hours of the day.  No one came out and
said, "hey, this is a pretty emotional event, does anyone want to spend
time looking at the news together so we can provide each other emotional
support?"

Funny. You think when you move into coho suddenly everyone will be
ever-so-social without anyone having to ACTUALLY initiate any activity. 
NOT!  After 3 weeks of the 9/11 media frenzy, I donated my TV to the
Common House.  Glad to have it out of my house maybe forever and
discover life without TV.  VCR too.  

3. Many of the single women, who have grown children or who never
parented, still feel some isolation in that many of the communities'
activies are child centered (we have 40 kids among a total 79 person
population).  The TV is something that single women and other adults can
use to plan a friday night movie showing, with or without families.  So
far we used it to show a group of kids the movie "BABE" on New Year's
Eve, then the next day singles and families came to watch Pirates of
Penzance...TOGETHER.  It was really fun to share a film and some
munchies intergenerationally.  Dinners are much more fleeting than
sitting together for 2 hr films.

4. We're sponsoring a foreign film fest this winter as a means to get
people together (and struggle SIMULTANEOUSLY with those yello
letterboxed words!).

5. On my birthday I wanted to have some women together to watch a "gal
flick".  Several women are alergic to cats and therefore could not come
to my home...blankets, pillows, popcorn, and cider allowed us to share
the film together in the Common House.

6. Olympics, Oscars, public TV specials, tape recordings of kid/adult
skits put on for the community.  These are all things many people could
be sharing/watching together...congregating around...but with TVs only
in personal homes, people don't AUTOMATICALLY think of inviting others
over (even though others are spending the evening alone or even watching
the same thing).

All ways of sharing are important to me in cohousing.  You might judge
TV to be a tool to achieve "slug-consciousness", but when used
creatively, it can bring people together.

Peggy MacLeod
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