A few years back, my neighbors, some friends, and I were sitting on a rooftop terrace overseeing Berlin while soaking in the late afternoon sun. We talked about how we all want to move in together. Berlin style. Self-sufficient and all. When one couchsurfer, who stayed with a friend, said it was the worst idea she has ever heard. I can’t remember where she was from. But I remember her story of living in close community until her thirties, the social confinement she experienced, the lack of openness, and the pressure to stay. Eventually, she left and was on her own.
Ever since I keep thinking about living in community. In my bubble, the discourse often results in: we need to build community. It’s the antidote to the individualism we often find ourselves in. I think it makes sense. Yet, I believe there is a logical evolution of why people left communities and moved to cities and lived by themselves. It allows for what makes systems come alive: autonomy and connection.
Admittedly, the connection part often lacks functionality. But moving to a close-knit community (which I consider to be anything above 6 people) might also not be the best solution and might explain why many communities are dysfunctional in the long term. It can quickly lead to tribalism, locked-in pathways, and a repression of self-expression. The solution then might be to
(a) develop as humans to such a degree, that we can recognise and overcome these symptoms.
(b) until then, for some – like me – it might be more conducive to create surroundings that are not as tight, but still create a feeling of belonging, while maintaining a high degree of autonomy.