Urban Villagers Unite with Oprah!

imagesI sort of made it on the Oprah show; Well actually that is not true.  What is true is that her website mentioned my new apparent “tribal lifestyle” as they are considering it. The story, by Jeanie Lerche Davis is from her byline called Single and Loving It. 

New-Style Communities

“Cohousing” is one answer. It’s a form of group housing much like a ’60s commune, but yuppie-style. These are condo-style developments built around a “common area” with kitchen, dining, laundry, exercise, and children’s playroom facilities. Cohousing communities are typically designed to resemble old-fashioned neighborhoods. Members get together often to share meals, socialize, and handle the ordinary stuff of daily living although they live in individual units. 

“Intentional community” is an inclusive term for ecovillages, cohousing, residential land trusts, communes, student co-ops, farms, urban housing cooperatives, and other projects. Intentional communities can be found all over the U.S. and Europe, their growth spurred by the Internet. Typically, community members jointly own land that has multiple dwellings. Frequently, members share a common bond—a religious, political, or social philosophy that brings them together…….via Single and Loving It


The above is all fairly true in my case but the comparison to a “tribe” is not very helpful.  Call me a “hippie” or a “commie” if you like, but to then claim that we live at a very simplistic level sociopolitical complexity is way off base.  I’m not taking offense at being compared to being a member of a “band-level society”.  Rather, I feel a need to point out that our complex society allows for many small “pockets of temporary simplicity” and that these pockets are temporary only.

“Urban tribes form in a vacuum,” Watters (author of the book Urban Tribes) tells WebMD. “Our generation has not joined the traditional social organizations our parents did, the churches and civic groups. We don’t stay in our jobs as long. That leads to a social vacuum, and humans don’t do well in a social vacuum. Something will fill it. That’s where Thanksgiving dinners started out as stopgap measure, then 10 years later, we realize these friends have become our family.” 

857572489_sustainability05thumbnailRead on at  Single and Loving It. But if you are hoping to find any systematic anthropology there, don’t hold your breath.  Now that I have lived in a cohousing community for a couple on months, I can echo Kermit’s point that “it ain’t always easy being green”.  The assumption that I’m a churchless single drifting from job to job smarts. I’m active in my church, I’ve had the same job for the past six years (with no plan on departing) and have been married for over ten years (and have a couple kids to boot).

I guess my beef is mostly with Watters who, in an effort to make a point, has been a bit too reductive for my taste. This is one angry villager who is standing up for his subaltern status!


  1. well, our urban tribe started in 1968 and continues – I only joined about 10 years ago. Anyway we are an intentional community and we are happy to see the boom in co-housing – around here its not just yuppies.

  2. I guess I should amend my posting. We started in cohousing as renters but within a month of signing the lease to the property, my wife asked for a divorce and asked me to leave the community. Now bankrupt and struggling to pay bills, I no longer think about the the long term success of such a project.

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