Outer Green was formed in 2008 as a vision for a sustainable, cooperative living and working environment. Our community is focused on promoting cooperative culture and living as sustainably as we can through land stewardship and socially supportive systems. We've embraced collaboration and shared space as an alternative to the kind of social and environmental isolation that can often be prevalent in our culture today.
Layers of Community:
Living full time in a cooperative environment can be a bit overwhelming at first (and at second).. There is a complexity to cultivating intentional shared space with other humans. Over time you start to really understand interpersonal boundaries, habits, preferences and those "absolute limits". But at first, it can seem like the emotional equivalent to climbing Mount Everest. All those emotions and interactions and moods!
Each person finds their way through this learning experience and we try and help each other by being transparent about ourselves as much as we can ( like communicating our hopes for help, distastes for patterns and whatever else that we project into our space together). When I feel the space isn't meeting my expectations, its my job to speak up and say " hey guys.. can we take another look at this..". This can be the hardest part of living cooperatively, learning to own your own voice and to share it with your group. Part of the reason it is SO hard, is because on one side each person knows the space is everyone's, yet it is also a serves as a personal space at the same time. We have a variety of needs as individuals, those needs sometimes differ from the greater group needs and even more so the greater needs of the mission, or purpose the group is trying to achieve.
That's where the layers of community comes in. The complexity of living and working together isn't derived from the one on one, it is more like three on one... You and another, you and a few and you as a part of the greater group. Or, the individual, the group and the mission. I've outlined each layer below:
1. The Individual ( You!): You have the needs of each individual, the things everyone needs to live life; food, clothes paying bills etc.. These things we all get from our independent professions, our careers in the world. Just like everyone else.
2. The Group ( The people you live/work with): These are things that support the shared needs of cooperative living. Things like tools and equipment to get the wood processed and inside for winter; shared house supplies, and chores But most of all, our weekly community meetings support the social and emotional needs of the group. They are a place to bring up accomplishments, challenges, and other communications, in order to keep the group feeling connected and healthy.
3. The Mission (Community Development): This third level is the mission of the community itself, the higher purpose or presence the cooperative is trying to achieve. For us, these are our goals for permaculture, forestry management, growing our own food, raising animals and communicating and fostering our connections with others. These things do not sustain themselves, they aren’t by products, they, like the other two examples, take resources.