Updated: Jul 8
I've shared before about how I left teaching in 2014. I've gone from being a full-time professional to a part-time admin assistant. I knew that this would mean lifestyle changes, and I think I've adapted pretty well. Discovering the sharing economy has made the transition a lot easier.
In February 2019, I chose to go carless because I was hardly using my car. This was a positive step for me, as I started walking, cycling, and bussing it a lot more, thus saving money and producing less pollution. However, there were times when I simply needed a car, especially on those days when I had numerous errands to run. And so I became a member of Peg City Car Co-op. Whenever I need a car, I simply book one online. It costs me far less than it does to insure a car year-round, and the Peg City vehicles are being used by numerous other drivers. It just makes so much financial and environmental sense to be sharing vehicles with others.
Carsharing is often practiced by cohousing communities. Once Prairie Rivers Cohousing is established, we'll be looking at whether there is interest in having a community car for members, or perhaps having a Peg City car parked on our property.
Another way I've adapted to my new financial reality has been to get a housemate. Where I once lived alone in a 1100 square foot home, I am now sharing it with Fatima. Some people warned me that getting a roommate would be a pain. Yes, we do have to share a bathroom, and we need to work around each other's schedules. But sharing my home makes so many aspects of my life more pleasant. I now have someone with whom to sit down for dinner, to share various household tasks, to play a board game, and most of all, to learn from. We are very different from each other in so many ways, yet our differences simply make our relationship that much more enriching. Despite our superficial differences, we're also finding that we have a lot in common. We're learning so much from each other.
I used to look down on Facebook, and have a number of issues with it. However, I've discovered that it can help to build community-- and I'm not talking about making Facebook Friends.
Last year, I discovered my neighbourhood's Buy Nothing and Freecycle groups. These both make it easy for me to give away things when I don't need them anymore, to ask for something I do need, or to express interest in receiving things which are offered by other members. At first, I appreciated how these two pages helped me live frugally and more sustainably. I've received a numerous items which I would otherwise have needed to buy new. It's so much safer than Kijiji. Most importantly, I've met so many members of the community since I began participating in these online "swap meets." I enjoy knocking on someone's door or having someone knock on mine to pick up an item. We get to talking, discover common interests, and establish connections. Connecting is something which neighbours used to do naturally, but for a number of reasons, North American society has moved away from social connection and now tends towards isolation. Like cohousing, Facebook groups like these are helping to reverse that trend, facilitating connection and making it possible for people to meet and share.
I'm so looking forward to moving into my new home in Prairie Rivers Cohousing, where the sharing economy will be part of the lifestyle. We'll be sharing numerous common spaces as well as tools, appliances, maintenance duties, and so much more. Regular common meals, prepared by teams which will take turns sharing cooking duties, will further contribute to bringing people together. I am convinced that people are hard-wired for connection. Cohousing and the sharing economy make that connection happen.
Prairie Rivers Cohousing's motto is Maximize your community, minimize your footprint. Need I say more?