We become human only in the company of other human beings. And this involves both opening our hearts and giving voice to our deepest convictions. …When we shrink from the world, our souls shrink, too.~Paul Rogat Loeb
I’ve been house/dog sitting for the past three weeks. As the friends of my daughter left for vacation they urged “please make yourself at home; eat what is in the cupboards and freezers; invite friends and enjoy.”
I’ve used my time conducting intensive research. I have 6 single spaced pages listing websites about shared housing and living in community ready to read and narrow down and further categorize. As I identify books I add them to my reading list.
Last Thursday morning our community library was my first stop. I staggered to the car with the books I’d reserved. In the spirit of the top book on the pile, What’s Mine is Yours, the rise of collaborative consumption, I let the person waiting for my parking space know there was at least 30 minutes left on the “smart meter” which doesn’t show the time left for individual parking spots.
In a section titled “Reconnection Beyond Consumerism,” the authors, Botsman and Rogers argue “We have witnessed the power of economic markets to create efficiencies that have produced extraordinary leaps of innovation and standards of living. At the heart of this lies the human impulse for self-interest and survival. If we can channel this energy away from consumer excess into community bonds and planetary survival, we may reverse the errors of our past.” (example: the garbage gyre as large as Texas, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.)
Due to a number of circumstances, including some bad choices, I don’t own a house, but a number of my friends do. This is central to the concept of shared housing – women with houses collaborating with others who need a home.
If we take seriously all the articles from examples of shared and co housing, to the local legalities of grannie flats, and the growing number of books about living in community, it’s evident that my near 70ish friends and I are throwing ourselves into a growing wave of single, older women choosing to share resources.*
Forget the bloviating politicians, this cohort of single women living with income categorized as poverty level, is growing by leaps and bounds;* my friends and I are the lucky ones who had decent educations and a long work history. Those of us who were home more than working at paying jobs, and were married more than 10 years, have half of our husband’s Social Security income, once they reach 65, which in my case is more than my SS income would be. (This does not affect the husband’s SS income).
Today I’m cleaning house and stocking the refrigerator with milk and eggs. Owners of this house return tomorrow. I will again head across the country exploring among other questions raised in What’s Mine is Yours, “how do people voluntarily make their actions fit together in an efficient and orderly way?”
*• In 2008, 46 percent of all elderly unmarried females receiving Social Security
benefits relied on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income.
• In 2006, only 23 percent of unmarried women aged 65 or older were receiving
their own private pensions (either as a retired worker or survivor), compared to 30
percent of unmarried men.
Source: Social Security is Important to Women Fact Sheet
* With the current economic downturn of the middle class, along with our aging population we may be working harder to create communities that work for everyone. Maybe.