Who Do You Want to Live With?

April 29th, 2010 by Jennifer Grainger

For those of you who are visionary, I know you share my frustration of seeing so clearly the future only to be met with unsuppressed sighs and eye-rolls when you share your vision, and the exhilaration you feel when your vision is finally validated by an outside “authority” like science or mass media.

Such was the case when I was thumbing through a Time magazine in my dentist’s office.

The March 22nd Annual Issue featured an article, “The Dropout Economy: The Future of Work Looks a Lot Like Unemployment.” The article suggested that the young people dropping out of the educational system (30% drop out of high school, and less than a third of young people have finished college) are on to something (realizing that the road to financial security does not lie in getting a college education, then landing a high paying job . . . that . . . hello . . . those jobs are leaving the U.S. faster than fleas off a dog on fire!) The article goes on to predict that the jobs that do emerge will be ones we can hardly imagine right now.

I have been saying that for years!

But the part of the article that caused me to feel the most exhilarated was the prediction of community living.  “. . . private homes will increasingly give way to cohousing communities, in which singles and nuclear families will build makeshift kinship networks in shared kitchens and common areas . . .”

You see, over the last five years when I have shared my vision of humanity evolving into living communally, along with the sighs and eye-rolls, I’ve endured comments like: “we already tried that in the 60s. It doesn’t work.” Or “that’s communism.”

Well, OK. Excuse me.

So I quit talking about it, but I’ve kept a casual eye on the movement towards various forms of intentional communities, ranging from living off the grid to luxurious communities of individual dwellings in gated communities, and plenty of diversification in between.

As time is prone to do, it has marched on, and we now find ourselves in the midst of a global crises of consuming earth’s resources beyond our capacity to sustain ourselves as a species. So guess what is emerging? Community living!

There are so many intentional communities emerging around the world there is even an organization that provides a directory to such communities.

I can’t tell you how much I love being right (because that wouldn’t be spiritual—it would be ego talking, right?)!

Personally, I am not that much of a community kind of person. I like an inordinate amount of alone time. I like doing things how I like, when I like, preferably without bystander’s comments that what I just did could have been done better their way . . . and they are right!

Yet, I absolutely know, that as a species, our survival is dependent upon us coming together in community to conserve resources and live sustainably. Rather than resist what I consider inevitable, I have taken the co-creator position to either locate, or create, a community of people I think I would enjoy living with.

So far this is my vision of my ideal intentional community:

A community of pioneering souls on a path of conscious evolution that embraces diversity of people, customs and view points. What we have in common is a desire to transcend ego and victim consciousness. We recognize ourselves as co-creators of our lives. We value transparency, authenticity, integrity, accountability, allowing, and tend to focus on what is working and making it better, while letting what is not working dissolve from lack of attention.

We value humor, fun, and the full range of being human, including our sexuality in whatever form consenting adults find pleasurable that does not negatively impact non-consenting adults.

As I explore various communities these are some of the features I’ve encountered that I want in my community:

1. Consensus based. Nothing happens unless everyone agrees. The philosophy behind this is that in a small community, having even a few disgruntled people diminishes the happiness of everybody. My (untested) philosophy is that it is possible for everyone’s needs to be met, and no one has to sacrifice something important to them, as long as having everyone’s needs met is held as a desirable community value, and that every interested party is willing to keep thinking outside the box until an acceptable solution is reached. (Notice I said everyone’s needs can be met, not necessarily everyone’s wants, which is an important distinction.)

2. Living joyfully is important. No matter the task at hand, I’d like an underlying focus of “how much joy can we experience in accomplishing this task?” be part of the equation.

3. I am inspired by Lafayette More House community whose only rule is “don’t do anything you don’t want to do.” I’d like our community to agree that if one cannot give a whole-hearted “yes” to a request, they have the courage to say “no” rather than perform with resentment.

4. My ideal community supports a high-level of clear, non-judgmental communication skills. I like the Non-Violent Communication guidelines put forth by Marshall Rosenberg as a possible communication blueprint. It fosters a partnership approach to relationships as opposed to hierarchical relationships based on reward and punishment.

In investigating shared housing possibilities I have imagined what a humongous task it would be to pare the possessions from my current 1,400 square feet of living space that is all mine into a single bedroom of private space! While that is a daunting task indeed, the other side of the equation is the paring of living expenses to next to nothing! A tantalizing concept, indeed! Not to mention being in community where my contribution was doing what I love to do, while other’s contributions took care of many of my needs. Hmm . . . something to at least think about!

You know how Ghandi said “be the change you wish to see in the world?” I am taking my first steps in preparing to be in community. I am downsizing from the master bedroom in my home to the tiny bedroom adjacent to the room I use for my home office. This will create a little suite for me that includes the hall bath. I will offer to rent the master bedroom to a pioneering soul (or couple) on the path of conscious evolution who would like to experiment with community living as a preferred lifestyle.

As of now, anyway, that’s the plan, while I continue my exploration of the myriad communities already in existence to glean wisdom from those actually successful at this lifestyle.

On May 22nd I’ll be taking a one day tour of San Francisco area cohousing neighborhoods sponsored by The Cohousing Association of the United States (www.cohousing.org). (Their motto is “build a better society one neighborhood at a time.”)

BOTTOM LINE: However the current “economic recovery” takes place, the jobs that have gone away are not coming back. Earth’s resources are dwindling as population grows. Conserving and sharing resources is inevitable. Large populations of “have-nots” lead to revolution!

Once examined closely, the benefits of community living become, not only apparent, but desirable . . . imagine a community of people who love and care about you, who share your values, who need the gifts you have to share, and share their gifts with you that fulfills your needs.

Our task is to evolve in consciousness to the understanding that, at essence, we are all one, and what we do to others, we do to ourselves, and we darn well better learn how to get along!

TIP: Start thinking about who you have in your life that you absolutely can count on to be there for you, no matter what. Begin building your community from that base. If there is no one that fits the bill, start thinking about the qualities you’d like in the people you would consider forming a community with.

P.S. How on earth did we create a culture in which children are relegated to day-care and the elderly are warehoused in assisted-living facilities, while adult job holders are separated from family for eight or more hours per day, five or more days a week? How crazy is that?  At the More House community the age range is from 3 to 93. “Child-care” and “assisted-living” are built into the community and “job holders” work on the premises keeping the business aspect functioning. Isn’t that a lot more soul-friendly than what we have going on now?

What are your thoughts on community living? Have you heard of any successful communities? Contact me with your comments. I’d love to hear from you!

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Course with Barbara Marx Hubbard

April 29th, 2010 by Jennifer Grainger

I have joined an eight week course with Barbara Mark Hubbard on the subject of conscious evolution. I am quite excited to be participating in this course for evolutionary leaders. Barbara has been on the cutting edge of understanding the evolution we are in the midst of and it is a joy to have her for a teacher.

Her visionary ability to see the current world crises as evidence of the evolutionary impulse to evolve, and her view that the current world mess is just part of a birthing process into a whole new way of being, is quite inspiring.

She backs her vision up with detailed data of the evolutionary process since the beginning of time. I like how she says it would be foolish to believe that millions of years of evolution will stop with us.

I’ll keep you posted on what I learn!

Love and light,

Jennifer

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The Beginning is NEAR!

April 14th, 2010 by Jennifer Grainger

I am so tempted to make a sign that says “The Beginning is Near!” and hire a weirdo looking guy in a white robe and long beard to display it while standing on the corner in front of the Lodi Stadium theater. He’d implore passersby to wake up and notice that what looks like the end of civilization as we know it is the beginning of an evolutionary leap that is propelling humanity into an age of love and beauty!

“It is darkest before the dawn” is quite an apt phrase to apply to the current world situation. Just when it seems things can’t get much worse, it gets worse. The contentious political factions seem to be gearing up for civil war. The world-wide monetary debacle fuels fear and worry. And on and on . . .

The thing is, though, this is exactly what you would expect when an old, decaying paradigm is collapsing, making way for the new to emerge. Patriarchy, and top-down authority based on a reward/punishment system, is on its last legs.

Yeah!

What is emerging is a partnership paradigm in which we understand the interconnectedness of all life. We are becoming aware of the finite resources of our planet to sustain us. We are beginning to understand that there is no place on earth we can dump our garbage, test our weapons, or “win” a war that does not eventually return to us a negative consequence.

This expanding awareness is fueling an emerging paradigm that is founded on cooperation rather than competition. New ways of living cooperatively are springing up everywhere. I know because about six months ago I Googled “intentional communities” and found www.ic.org the website of the Fellowship of Intentional Community, which promotes community living and cooperative lifestyles across North America.

There are thousands of communities listed. Some people have formed eco-villages out of concern for the sustainability of the earth. Some formed intentional communities to reduce individual living expenses so they can quit their “wage slave” jobs and earn their living doing what they love. Some formed communities because they have a shared life philosophy.

People who have lost their jobs, and/or homes, out of necessity are currently forming communities by moving in with family and friends in order to survive.

As each intentional community works through the challenges of living cooperatively, mass consciousness is being prepared for cooperative global living. Just in times nick, too! As we can plainly see, unless our world community learns to live cooperatively, we are going to blow ourselves off the planet.

On the national level we, as a society, seem evenly divided on just about every issue, with each side 100% sure they are absolutely right, and the opposition is 100% dead wrong. Civil war is becoming a real possibility!

For those of us who choose to step outside the current cantankerous paradigm and participate in the creative process of shaping the future paradigm, community living is gaining appeal.

Now, at first, I was not so keen on the idea of living in community. I mean, I really like my privacy. And I have enjoyed living alone, doing what I want, when I want, how I want. Yet, my guidance has clearly told me community living is what is next for us. Dwindling earth resources demands a halt to excess consumption. Sharing resources is an obvious alternative.

“OK,” I said. “I am willing. Show me the way.” You see, I have learned that the Universe is going to do what it does and I can either go along willingly or be dragged, pushed, or shoved into what is for my highest and best good, even when it doesn’t seem like it at the time.

So I subscribed to the Intentional Community magazine. I purchased the video set documenting various communities so I could get an idea of what’s already working. I listened to people talk about how California is going to fall into the ocean and I’d better think about leaving the area.

I responded by saying I am willing to go where spirit directs. Yet, no doors were opening. No whispers were guiding me to do anything different than to just stay put. Fine by me. I love my home, and as I said, I was not too keen on “giving up” my perceived perks of living alone.

Then one day last month the quarterly magazine from the Fellowship of Intentional Community arrived in the mail. “Raising Children in an Ecovillage” read the magazine’s cover banner. Being well passed the raising children stage, I set it aside.

A week or so later, taking a break from the computer, I began idly thumbing through the magazine and found the articles more fascinating that I would have imagined. Children talked about the advantages of having a variety of adults to interact with. Parents talked about the blessings of having other adults share parenting chores.

When I came to the article about the Morehouse community I was excited to learn they were relatively local. I dashed back to my computer to Google them and found they were having a presentation at the Open Secret bookstore in San Rafael the following week. I knew I had to be there.

As I listened to them talk about their community every part of me was feeling “this is it!” This was the open door I’d been anticipating. Where it will lead I don’t know, but I do know I need to investigate further.

“One step at a time,”I said to myself, reining in my enthusiasm. I reminded myself how important it is to stay connected to my guidance every step of the way. I had learned the hard way how easy it is to get off track by letting my rational mind/ego take over when a new door opened. Uh . . . I’ll spare you the details . . . but the end results were not so good! (Other than the wisdom gained, of course.)

The Morehouse community has been in existence for over 40 years with many of the original members still in residence! They are a consensus group, not a top-down authority group. They have a community business that supports the community so that, ideally, people do not have to take outside jobs that are not soul-satisfying.

As visions are prone to do, one popped into my head at 3 a.m. two weeks ago. There were two elements to it: one, that spiritual growth is synonymous with becoming conscious. And, two, that the Spiritual Growth Community will morph into the Community for Conscious Living.

I jumped out of bed and secured the domain name www.CommunityForConsciousLiving.com and went back to bed marveling at how this is unfolding.

The vision expanded as I was preparing for the six month class series, Awakening Your Light Body, that started last Saturday, and in working with the practitioners I am coaching in practice development.

OMG, wouldn’t it be great to have a community business that allowed the practitioners to do what they do best, while other community members did what they did best . . . marketing, bookkeeping, handling recording equipment during seminars, doing website maintenance, handyman work, yard work, auto maintenance, and on and on?

YES!

So that’s the vision. A community of people who want to live consciously, that is authentically, and want to sustain themselves doing what they love. What remains to be seen is how this community will form itself.

Will it be a virtual community linked by Facebook, Twitter, cells phone, the internet, and occasional group get-togethers? Will it be a community that locates individual abodes on shared acreage?  Will it be a small community occupying a large Victorian house? I don’t know . . . yet.

The unfolding continues, one step at a time with no attachment to the outcome, yet being pulled forward by a vision of community living. I have attended a few Morehouse classes, and a few fun events called Mark Groups, which are open to anybody wanting to have fun. That is, you don’t have to be a community member to attend.

Mark Groups foster a sense of community because the game that is played let’s people get to know each other at a deeper level than ordinary social gatherings. So I am taking the next obvious step in the unfolding. Beginning Sunday, May 2nd, from 3 to 5 p.m. I will host a Mark Group in my home each Sunday for a while. If you like to have fun, you are definitely invited! Watch your email for your invitation.

BOTTOM LINE: We are in the midst of an evolutionary leap for humanity. No one will be untouched by the changes that are coming. Many people will leave the planet. Those who remain will co-creatively shape the future. The more easily you can go with the flow of change, the more graceful will be your experience. Taking baby steps through the doors that open can be a joyful adventure. Resistance to change will not halt change. The more you resist it, the bigger the trauma when the change does finally occur.

TIP: If you can view the coming changes as a birth into the new instead of the death of the old, you can have an adventure-perspective rather than a fear-perspective. I like to think of these “trying times” from the perspective of a fetus who is being expelled from the womb. Truly it is the death of a comfortable way of life, but with no more room to grow, literal death would be inevitable. The birthing process must seem terrifying to the fetus, not to mention painful for the mother.  Yet the “death” of the womb-life is the birth into a whole new beginning.

P.S. One of the great things about this life is the gift of free will. We are free to choose any belief that pleases us. We are free to choose whatever perspective we want when evaluating any situation. I choose to believe in ideas that make me feel good. If ideas of civil war, doomsday, and the “end times” bring comfort . . . great! Have at it. In the meantime I choose to believe that the best is yet to come which results in me living with more Joy, less struggle and lots more FUN!

P.P.S. Hope to see you at my home on May 2nd, from 3 to 5 p.m. for the first Mark Group. Be there or be SQUARE, hehe!

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