By sharing tools, spaces, and time we can all save money, use fewer resources, and gain emotional support. For example, we could not live in the bus without our gracious hosts. We are eager to give back to them because of their generosity towards us. You can develop these sorts of mutually beneficial relationships no matter where you live. Here are a few ideas.
- Plant a vegetable garden in the yard of an elderly friend who can’t do much yard work. Share the produce.
- Ask a friend to watch your kids while you grocery shop for both families.
- Share expensive tools.
- Buy food in bulk (half a cow, a hundred pounds of grain) and split it between several families.
- Get chickens and split the care with a neighbor.
- Go in on ingredients for freezer meals with four friends. Everyone makes four dinners worth of one meal and then you all trade.
- Have a community meal once a week. I always look forward to our community meals and it feels like less cooking that night since I only bring one dish.
- Join online groups where you can trade information and support.
Does developing close friendships where you can share life in these ways sound daunting? I’ve always worried about what people think about me, but I tried to act like I didn’t care. Sometimes, I tried to be independent of others so that I would not have to worry about their opinion or risk rejection. However, when I reach out, I always find that plenty of other people crave meaningful relationships!
Maybe it looks like you have tons of friends because you are always doing something social, but you know that these relationships are surface level. Don’t be afraid to say no to “socializing” and instead seek out a smaller group of people whom you would like to share life with in a deeper way. Leave the Facebook groups that cause you angst or waste your time. Stick with the ones where you learn new things and find support.
It is true that life in community has challenges. Your friends may let you down. You may let them down. Be ready to forgive. Sometimes you will need to give without getting anything back, at least not right away. And yes, you will need to learn methods of conflict resolution that don’t involve avoidance.
Do you have a supportive community right now? What does it look like? How do you share, give, and resolve conflict?