Intentional community finds ways to save

August 5, 2008 12:00:49 AM PDT
Some Bay Area people who've made significant lifestyle adjustments aren't feeling the economic pinch.

If you broke down your fences and pooled your resources with the neighbors, you would have an intentional community.

"I was away for the weekend, so I don't even have much food left in my house," said Hank Obermayer, the Mariposa Grove founder.

Here in North Oakland, four buildings housing a total of eight units and a community room makeup Mariposa Grove. Founder Hanks Obermayer says it's a type of non-profit called a community land trust.

"And so we actually own our places, but there are restrictions for how much we can sell them for. We can make money, but we can't make a lot of money," said Obermayer.

By doing this, it makes living affordable during tough times for these 22 residents, including six children. They have a group meal two or three times a week. They share the laundry facilities, the water and garbage bill, broad band cable, and the cost for bulk supplies like detergent and toilet paper.

"It's actually going cost me less than living in an apartment by myself, and I get more for my money," said Diane Dew, a resident.

They also have a garden. They share the vegetables, fresh eggs and five gallons of honey made by the bees each year.

You may not share a community stage with your neighbors, but there are many things they practice here that typical families can do with their neighbors.

Any group of neighbors can create a babysitting co-op, start a dinner club or share tools and household skills.

"We do work parties together. So say if I need a new hot water heater. I don't know how to install a hot water heater and I can't afford to pay someone $1,500 to do it, but somebody else here might have the skills to help me," said Dew.

Life at Mariposa Grove may be considered counter-culture, but Obermayer says, lately, more people are interested in how they're living.


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