When Andy and I came back to New Mexico in 2002, there were a group of us old friends. We went to the Lama Foundation’s Build Here Now program, and tried out the community living and natural building thing for a week. We all were planning to get land together and explore co-housing/ intentional community. I cherished that dream- a band of us getting land together and exploring self sufficiency, economic stability, and community structure. Like a family.
Unexpected infants and illnesses entered the picture and the dream fell apart. After a couple years exploring existing community options, Andy and I found ourselves moving forward, just the two of us now, and we purchased our own property. The community piece of the vision for our life together did not look like what we first expected. That played into our decision not to have our own children. I’ve seen how hard raising kids can be in the nuclear family situation. That difficulty tells me we must be meant to live in tribes, for our lives to be more intertwined so that caring for children and elders doesn’t have to be an isolating experience.
It seems hard to find the middle ground as parents in the world of today. Making the decisions about day care, schooling, and providing healthy social engagement and learning experiences can be really hard. All this must be balanced with keeping our own health thriving, emotionally, physically, and economically. I want to see children growing into this world with the desire to pitch in with the real workings of community and caring for one’s living environment. This is natural in children. And it’s natural in adults, expanding into a care for the social and natural environment of one’s community.
After a few years on our property, we realized that we do live in a community, a tribe of sorts. Even though there may be a half mile or more between us and some of our neighbors, there is an ethic of sharing and caring and we really do show up for each other. We are blessed to have this, and to have contributed towards this.
The community that gathers at Ampersand is special too, in a different way. The age range is more vast, and the common vision for our world and lifestyle ethic is more narrow. Whether this community gathers for just a day or a couple months, there is something very special and inspiring about it. These pulses of living the sustainable community dream tends to leave us all rejuvenated and inspired. And now, being of the age where the biological clock makes itself known, I’m conjuring ways to include the new children in my life, and those who I don’t yet know. I’m revisiting the quest to make the multi-generational sustainable community dream happen, even if it looks different than we first thought. Kids need nature, and they need lifestyle models of living within nature’s cycles. Adults need children, and the chance to share in the wonder of the world. While parents strive to make the world better by raising truly healthy children, we can offer Ampersand as a place that models a community sharing in the joys of a simple and interconnected life.
All ages have fun with mud, whether by making sturdy walls or mud pies. Everyone love to eat, and the food preparation become play when we do it together with each other and the sun. Our community is teeming with people who have simple and helpful skills and practices to share. Hence, Ampersand’s new offering: Community Homestead Day, an all-ages event. Keep your eye on our website as we pin down our spring schedule in the new year. We would like to share in the creativity of a homemade life as well as inspire your sustainable community efforts closer to home. This is work the Earth needs all of us for. And when we do it together, it’s Play.
Here are photos of a few of my inspirations for investing in community.
Written by Amanda Bramble