Diary notes, 2018

21 April2018

What a busy day! With all the city traffic, it took me a while to get from Chisinau to our community near 'Noroc' village. Together with my wife Olea, we moved here about a year ago. When I first mentioned about eco-community, Olea had lots of reservations. Growing up in the village she was not rushing to return to a rural lifestyle. She assumed we would be going to muddy roads, falling outhouses, and hard work in the fields.

 She was also worried about power cuts and poor internet connection that would prevent her from continuing her work as a web-designer. But she was pleasantly surprised when we came for a visit one day. We saw some clustered homes surrounded by a lot of green space. We've had some stimulating discussions with a few residents and international volunteers and we felt a good connection with the place.

So we decided to rent a room here for a month and ended up staying for a year. Our neighbors to the left are Gheorghe and Liuda, who live in a two-bedroom apartment with their daughter. Gheorghe is a manager of some company in Chisinau, Liuda is an accountant. Two years ago Gheorghe bought a one-room apartment in the neighboring cluster of homes for his mom, who is turning 71 this year. Our other neighbor is Irina, who rents a one room apartment to our right. Irina graduated university 5 years ago and is a young journalist at the news agency.

My parents are coming for dinner tonight. Olea prepared stuffed peppers with some salads in our modest kitchen and got an apple pie from our local eco-café.

- "I still don't understand why you decided to move here", my dad said as we sat down at the table. "It's far from Chisinau, you live in a smaller apartment than you used to and you don't even have a washing machine?"
- Yes, our place is smaller than it used to be, but it's more economical. I don't need to pay so much for heating or electricity as I used to, the noise and allergies are not bothering me any more at night and if I need something I can probably find it in the common house or my neighbors.
- "What's a common house?" my mom inquired.
- It's the big building we've passed on the way home. We have a well-equipped kitchen with the dining area for about 50 people there. Olea and I often eat dinners there with our friends. There is also a library, workshop with tools, storage, laundry, children's room, a few offices and guest rooms. We all contribute some time and money to keep it up.
- So you pay for that too in addition to your monthly rent?!?
- Yes, a reasonable maintenance fee. Part of our philosophy is realizing that we're interdependent among each other and with nature. So we try to share resources, minimize our consumption and build strong relationships to support each other and to capitalize on each other's skills and gifts.
- 'Our philosophy'... what is it, some kind of sect?
- It's not a sect... we don't have a religious ideology or dogmatic rules. We share certain values, related to protecting our environment, practicing healthier lifestyle and social interaction. And we're open to connect with others who share similar values. We don't have it all 'figured out', it is a process and we try to let the community evolve organically as new people join, as we try things out, reflect and take the next step. We're still learning about the group process, balancing giving and taking, as well as dealing with the challenges that come up.
- Sounds crazy...
- Maybe you should better talk to some of my friends before you go to bed tonight, you'll get a better idea. Let me show you the way to our guest room at the common house.

Phew... I'm glad we don't have to continue this conversation into the night!

1Example of a straw bale house, New Zeland

2Through collective design, community structure meets its members' needs Lancaster Cohousing, Marea Britanie

3Clustered homes are more efficient and provide more grean space. River Road Cohousing proposal, SUA

5Optional common meals strengthen community spirit and understanding

 7Common House can include: workshop, dining room, playroom, offices, library, guest rooms, etc.

Community building is a process, where members learn to work in a group, manage conflicts, find understanding