Wednesday, 1 February 2012

UN-intentional Community

Have you noticed I've been a little bit quiet lately.  Well I've been a bit busy!

A couple of weeks ago I went to donate blood at a large regional town.  While I was there I did a monthly shop because they have more stores than our little town.   Then we walked down the street for refreshments (ice-cream).  I came across a young couple, surrounded by luggage, limited English, on the phone having difficulties.

Can't help myself...... have to step in.  They are backpackers from Italy and threw in jobs in Melbourne to go to a fruit picking job.  They arrived in the town and rang the contractor who was supposed to pick them up.  He claimed he didn't know what they were talking about.   He must have employed someone else in the meantime and they were left stranded with no jobs and no accommodation.

This was the beginning of my un-intentional community!

Now, here they are at my house and so far all is good.  I am interested in intentional communities.  Very interested!  I found a book on the subject at an op shop recently and it is high up on my 'to read' list.  These days we tend to live very isolated and private lives.  We choose to see people only when we are prepared and can put our best feet forward.  I believe we are meant to live with more connection to our fellow man.  It makes perfect sense to live near each other and help each other but...............

I am in awe of intentional communities that function well.  I struggle with issues of space, decision making, independence etc.  I struggle with being seen, warts and all!  I'm not so sure I would find it easy.  In fact, thinking about communal living makes me slightly uncomfortable that maybe I'm not so easy to get along with?!

But back to my visitors - they are wonderful!  Two young people on an adventure who are keen to learn about Australia and the people around them.  They have been so considerate and co-operative.  We took them with us on a trip to buy paint for our house, only to find out Mauro had been a painter in Italy and he offered to paint our house!!!

And his girlfriend, Giulia, is just delightful!  I'm really enjoying having some female company.  She's still a teenager, but very capable and she's teaching me to cook the Italian way.  We had gnocchi, courtesy of Giulia, for dinner last night.  Yum!!!

If we didn't live the way we do, I would have found it very hard to cater for unexpected guests.  Luckily we buy monthly groceries and were well stocked up.  I have also had days where I was stumped as to what to cook for dinner.  On one of these days I walked out into the garden to discover a couple of zucchinis.  Yay!  Zucchini slice!  On another, I checked under the potatoes to discover there were heaps ready for bandicooting!

Life is about to get a lot more difficult though.  Tomorrow the kids go back to school and life becomes more hectic and needs to be structured.  I don't want to be putting down rules but need to think through how to make life work for everyone while Giulia and Mauro are still here searching for work.  What a challenge to begin the school year with!  I am already very nervous about Master Six beginning his journey at school.  Tomorrow will be a very hard day for me.

I think most mothers shed a few tears as they watch their little ones enter school life and I have been no different with my last three children, but this time there is fear as well.  I have watched Master Six so closely for all these years and tomorrow I must entrust his safety to others.  Our school is fantastic and he is sensible but, like many children with Down syndrome, he doesn't have the same decision making skills as other children his age.  I will be anxiously waiting for three thirty to come around so that my son can safely be delivered back into my arms!!!

As for my Italian friends, I must thank them for my practise introduction to WOOFERS.  We have tossed around the idea of WOOFERS for ages but weren't sure if we were ready to cater for extra people.  Now I know it can be done!  Maybe later in the year when life has settled...........?

Could you live easily in close proximity to other people and do you have ideas on how to structure daily life to make it easy for all involved?  I would love to hear your thoughts!


Stitchin' time said...

Hoping Master Six has a great day at school.
You are a lovely person to 'rescue' these young people and make their visit to our country enjoyable instead of it leaving them with bad experiences and memories.
You mentioned WOOFERS and my parents went on a visit with their pensioners group last year to and they were very impressed. I've been viewing the website this morning and now I'm very impressed. I'll have to visit this farm too!
Honeycomb have also been hosting WOOFERS so if your visitors want to come up to NSW sometime in the future this looks like a wonderful place for them to apply.

Busy mum of 3 said...

Welcome back, I missed your posts. Your antics always give me a belly laugh, (which I needed today) Fancy taking in total strangers off the street. LOL :). Actually it speaks volumes about you and you wonderful compassionate friendly personality. I like the concept of communal living (for want of a better word) but in reality I don't think I could do it. To many opinions and ideas always seem to lead to conflict which I wouldn't like, also I really like my space, I can go many days without seeing other people or leaving the house, and I am totally comfortable.

Dani said...

Bless you for your kindness.

I know what you are feeling about Master Six - it's never easy letting go - especially such a vulnerable little one. But trust and believe that all will be well. He's going to love his adventure :)

Anonymous said...

Great story. Very inspiring. There needs to be more of that going on. Good luck with Master six as well.

purplepear said...

We have been taking WWOOFers now for six years and find it mostly as a great experience, especially when there's plenty of food growing in the garden. We are at the moment attempting to buy the property next door with the help of others with the intention of starting a n intentional community. Wow what an experience!

Fiona from Arbordale Farm said...

What a wonderful experince for your family and what a great example this sets for your children about helping others. I am sure you will all be the better for it. Re Master Six heading off to school I am sure by the things you have written in the past that he is ready for the challange but it is understandable that you worry. Have faith that you have prepared him well and send him on his way.

Linda said...

Hi Robyn, Yes I love the WWOOFER idea. Isn't it great when people work together like that! But my two visitors need paid work at this point in time. I think they'll be leaving soon.

Busy Mum, I hate conflict too! It churns me up. Yet unfortunately I am very strong minded and outspoken sometimes so I don't do a good job of avoiding conflict.

Thanks Dani, I truly believe he'll be okay but I just can't feel it in my heart yet. There were lots of tears this morning and none were from him!

Sarah, thank you! Wouldn't it be great if we were all less inhibited about the people around us. Thanks for your good wishes.

Hi Kate, I would love it if you could blog about your plans for your community. I could sit and chat to you for hours about your WWOOFing experience and your future ideas for community living. It's hard to just type a conversation, isn't it?

Fiona, the kids have loved having people to stay and are enjoying learning about Italy from them. Thank you for your lovely words regarding Master Six. A close friend said similar yesterday and it made me feel good.

Kim said...

What a lovely post and what a lovely person you are for taking these people in.
As a teacher , I always have loved children with Downs-itis like being with a ray of sunshine all day. ...I think you will find your beautiful Master 6 will be surrounded by love at school and will surprise you with his ability to adapt.
A hug though, it is hard sending our little ones to school - I remember I cried as my son waved whole heartedly as he lined up for the first time.

Tricia said...

I love that your 'un-intentional' community formed so naturally - and probably turned up at a time you were ready. I love that things often work out that way.

Lois said...

I'm sure they have learned as much from you as you have from them. I am enjoying your blog and have nominated you for the Beautiful Blogger award.