I wonder if everyone feels (like me) that they are the black sheep of their family. Not the full on, crazy cousin that you don’t give your address to black sheep, but just some way that you don’t fit into your family. (Yes, I do have a crazy cousin but he is harmless and he doesn’t know my married name.)
I am the curling black sheep of my family. My older sister has gone to the Canadian Ladies Senior Championship twice as lead on Team Saskatchewan. My father has a lifetime membership in the Yorkton Curling club. My mom was a hard core curler until her back gave out. Then she became the driver for her team – very important when bonspieling in rural Saskatchewan.
I don’t curl. There I’ve said it – it’s out there for everyone to know. Growing up, I was the kid sitting at the curling rink reading a thick book. We lived on a farm and ‘going to the rink’ was one way to get into town. I played on my sister’s team one year. At the end of the year, she very lovingly told me that the rest of the team didn’t want me to curl with them next year; they wanted to win at least one game.
So when Prairie Spruce announced that we would be participating in a Curling blender at the Tartan Curling rink, I was torn. I wanted to hang out with my cohousing friends, but curling? Seriously, curling? I usually use the phrase ‘I’d rather poke a stick in my eye’ when asked about curling.
I took a chance and had a great time. Have I returned from the dark side? Has the curling gene finally shown up? Nope. I took my camera along and had a blast taking pictures. Since they were fun four end games, no one cared that I was on the ice taking pictures. It was absolutely the best time I’ve ever had curling. Prairie Spruce fielded (iced?) two teams. Prairie Spruce One was Henning, Warren, Murray, and Suzanne. Prairie Spruce Two was Dave, Lil, Roger, and Knud. We were the only group that fielded two teams, had a team photographer, as well as a cheering section of Kim, Suzanne’s daughter, Laurie and Claire.
The moral of the story? In cohousing, even black sheep belong!
Did you hear the one about the young man who decided to test the quality of his personal connections with his Facebook friends? He invited them all to a party. But when the time came to party no one showed up and he was left all alone.
This anecdote isn’t intended to criticize Facebook but it speaks to the nature and quality of human relationships, an essential factor in loneliness. It ties into the “Connected-ness, Companionship and Community” theme of keynote speaker Michael Lavis at the annual “Celebration of Inclusion” hosted by the Regina and District Association for Community Living. The annual Inclusion Awards night recognizes individuals and organizations that increase opportunities for community members who have an intellectual disability to contribute in a real and meaningful way to life in our society.
Michael Lavis, the Executive Director of Creative Options Regina (COR) spoke on the topic of loneliness because some members of our society may have more difficulty than others in establishing close relationships with other people, people other than family members, with whom they are personally and emotionally connected. His presentation drew on research that suggests loneliness is on the rise. All demographics are affected and today 40% report feeling lonely, which is up from 20% in the 80’s. Among the causes and risk factors are segregation and having few or non-existent meaningful relationships.
Michael went on say loneliness has a wide range of negative effects on both physical and mental health. To combat it we need to increase our understanding of the value of positive supports and relationships in health and recovery. We need to look for signs of loneliness, make quality relationships a top priority, and create an environment conducive to such relationships.
Prairie Spruce Commons is just such an environment. It is a community that is intentionally designed to facilitate positive interactions amongst its members and which operates on the principles of being respectful, caring and sharing. We foster a sense of belonging. Have you found that sense of belonging?
In today’s common suburbanism, it’s far too easy to live an anonymous, solitary life. Get in your car, open the garage door, drive to work, do the 9-to-5, drive back home, open the garage, close the garage, flick on the TV…
But there’s an alternative! Imagine being able to walk or bike to and from work downtown, at the University of Regina, or at the General Hospital, and then coming home to a community where everyone knows your name and considers you an important part of their lives. This is the vision I and many of my future neighbours have for Prairie Spruce Cohousing.
I’m looking forward to greeting and having regular conversations with my fellow residents on my way to my own private condo unit. I’m looking forward to having my spirits lifted by my friends and neighbours. I’m looking forward to activities inside and outside of Prairie Spruce Common House. The opportunity to take part in community meals, for example, will give me free time to spend with my family or to go for a walk beside Wascana Lake before supper. When I leave on a vacation, I’ll know with certainty that my home and property will be secure and well taken care of since I’ll personally know everyone in the building.
There are but some of the meaningful advantages to life in cohousing and I’m sure I’ll discover more!