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The Good Life


new internationalist
issue 160 - June 1986

Low-cost fun: gardening in the Dandelion community.
Photo: Dandelion community, Ontario
The good life
Home sweet home, runs the saying. But how sweet is the home
if Mom is bored by having to clear up after everyone else and Dad
resents sharing the chores? Helen Forsey argues from Ontario
that the sweetness can only be put back into home-life if
we learn to work again with hand and brain.

THE assessor from the insulation firm walks up the hill past the workshop and the garden, where three people are busy weeding, and knocks at the door of the old frame farmhouse. The door is opened by a man holding a laughing baby in his arms. He calls to a young woman, who shows the insulation representative around.

The insulation of the house is an issue that concerns everybody, for this is Dandelion Community, a small homestead-type commune where resources and responsibilities are shared. Since cash is not plentiful, a major expenditure like the proposed insulation is not undertaken lightly. But later that week, all ten members decide to go ahead with the project, as everyone will benefit by it. The insulation will mean that they will conserve firewood and enjoy a warmer house throughout the long Canadian winter.

Dandelion was established 11 years ago on the cheapest 50 acres its founders could find in Eastern Ontario. A neighbouring farmer claims that at that time the local people said the place would be back in the original owners' hands before the year was out. Dandelion proved the skeptics wrong.

People who visit or live in Dandelion for any length of time usually come to feel that it contains a sane and balanced mixture of concerns and activities. The monotony of housework or office work is absent because even the chores are livened up by music and conversation, and there are frequent chances to do a different job or learn a new skill. It isn't possible to live an unbalanced existence, for no matter how engrossed you may become in some intellectual or artistic pursuit, next thing you know it's your turn to do the dishes or milk the cow!

People join the community - and leave - for many different reasons. 'It's a good place for me to be just now,' says one member, 'to keep busy and feel useful at the same time as I'm sorting out some new directions for myself. There's a supportive atmosphere and honest communication, and it's a healthy lifestyle.'

Dandelion and the other members of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities are not an escape from the 'real world' and its problems. Communities are subject - like other households - to the destructive tendencies and economic pressures that besiege us all. They are not immune to inter-personal difficulties. Living and working closely with other people is seldom easy, but it can be deeply satisfying.

For more Information write to Dandelion Community RRI (N), Enterprise, Ontario, KOK, 1 ZO, Canada.

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New Internationalist issue 160 magazine cover This article is from the June 1986 issue of New Internationalist.
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