The Zen of Cleaning Toilets

So, I live in an urban hippie commune in downtown Buffalo.  Some of you already know this.  The picture is of the particular house I live in…  You see, I’m a member of the Nickel City Housing Cooperative which is a member of NASCO (North American Students of CoOperation), and Nickel City has two houses: Ol’ Wondermoth & Plankton.  I live in Wondermoth.  It has many nicknames in my head.  The House of Awesome (we do accept rebel freedom fighters on horseback).  The Hippie House.  Home.  You get the idea.  I’ve lived here for about 18 months and it has been wonderful and difficult, a place of healing and learning… but mostly, it’s been… cooperative.

Now what does this mean, to live cooperatively?  To live in an intentional community?  Well, there’s this big-assed 125 year old mansion that we live in, maintain, and decide the fate of, even if our ownership of it is shared with every other member of NASCO Properties.  And we decide how we’re going to be, together.  And we’ve decided that the Rochdale Principles of cooperation are pretty darn nifty, that we agree with them, and that they’re good enough to live by.  Essentially, we accept that what we, as individuals do (do, say, think, choose, buy, sell, throw away, recycle, support, kick, demean, laugh at, hold dear and fuck) deeply affects everyone else.  It sends out ripples, waves, and tsunamis, and being or even acting oblivious to this truth doesn’t make it any less real.  And so we make an effort to live intentional lives, and we do that in community with one another… literally in our case, living together.

This means that I clean the toilet on the first floor, the toilet bowl alone which took the entire second period of yesterday’s Sabres vs. Fliers game (mineral build up is all I’ll say…), and I do it not because it’s my chore, but because it negatively impacts the lives of my housemates if I don’t.  Ditto paying rent on time.  And I’ll share the job of Bulk Ordering with my housemate Chelsie because it’s way more fun to do it with her than by myself, aside from the mutual accountability factor.  And I’ll show up for difficult conversations because if we don’t communicate, we can’t actually be healthy.  And I’ll take ownership and responsibility, but only my share, thereby allowing others to take their share of ownership and responsibility.   It means that as the current board President steps down, I’ll step up.  And I’ll do that partially because I’m entering a really stable part of my life where I’m capable of taking on that responsibility, but also because I really, deeply love my house, my housemates, and my co-op and I’m willing to put some time and effort, and my own talents into making sure we not only survive, but thrive.

I’m all about thriving, really.

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