Monday, May 27, 2013


the strangest thing just happened..

i moved into a place with a bunch of complete strangers [besides my man..] and a community was born. in a large three level house close to the downtown, there are three units.. the basement [us], the main floor [passive couple and their brother] and a dude upstairs [on the top floor]. the brother had just as recently moved in as we had, and it turns out he's big on gardening and plants. instahomies! same goes for my boyfriend with the guy on the top floor, they both play magic the gathering. nerrrrrds! ha...

when we moved in there was more or less a meadow in the back yard. somewhere back beyond the rolling grass there lies a fire pit, a small bed for vegetables, some lawn furniture, and lots and lots of space. the mower given by the landlord had broken down, and hadn't been replaced as promised, and little care was given for the yard.

i went out one day with a hand cutter and a weed pulling tool and started hacking away at the longest patch of grass, it was also the sunniest place in the yard. i figured if tomatoes will grow anywhere, it will be here. i started with only a small square, i had made a clearing in the meadow for a foodpatch.

later on that evening, the brother upstairs came out and started digging too. he wanted to have tomatoes he said.. i told him i was interested in growing as much food as i can. we continued to dig in our respective corners until there wasn't any sunlight. the next day my boyfriend joined in, helped me cut back more grass and expand the bed. suddenly there was a passion to grow food.. suddenly, everyone started working together to improve the property. the couple cleaned the house, the guy up top offered to pitch in on maintenance, and the boys and i dug and raked and mowed. and of course, planted..

the image of an actual back yard is starting to shine through. the efforts of everyone involved are something to take pride in, something worth sharing. next time we have company over, it will feel more like a backyard party and less like a tailgater in the back bush. the yard feels more open, there's a lot more space than we imagined to grow food, hang out and enjoy nature, and entertain ourselves and our guests. suddenly a group of people that kept to themselves came together... and a new community was born.

to be continued...

Monday, February 18, 2013

patience, and cabin fever.

one lesson i will take to the grave.. patience. i have had many other opportunities in my life to learn patience like being a step mother, working with the public in customer service, and being a supervisor for a large chain store. but this... this is something all of it's own. living in a community has many benefits, being more cost effective is pretty high on the list, but it also comes with sacrifice.

the temperature outside is currently well below zero, it's late morning and the guy i share my room with just went to bed. there's two people in the kitchen, one in the shower, and the laundry machine has a line up. typical for a stat winter holiday, everyone is home and it's cold outside. so i sit at my computer and wait my turn for whichever becomes free next.

when i first stumbled into the community lifestyle, i didn't have nearly as much patience as i do today. i was stubborn, and if i didn't get my way i'd sooner leave than try to think of a solution. even when i moved in here, i was constantly on the lookout for another place, something i could afford alone or with one other person. i didn't see myself living this way again as i never seem to plan for it, and when i do try to plan for it, it doesn't seem to work. so from now on i just go with the flow, and see what happens.

anyhoo.. patience. i seem to have grown some. living with a bunch of people isn't for everyone, it definitely requires a particular mind state. here in north america we are so conditioned to believe that we need so many things to live a proper life, and a bunch of space to keep them in. we're so used to being individually packaged in our very own little boxes, kind of together but really separate from everyone and the world around us.

for a while it was bothering me that i had to share my room. this certainly isn't the first time, for whatever reason i can't go anywhere without a crowd. anyways, i was starting to get really annoyed with my roommate and pushing him to start looking for his own place. i was irritated that i couldn't have some time to myself before bed, some quiet time by lamplight to read and unwind. i was bothered that all of the space in our room was taken up by two giant beds, and we didn't have any space to just exist and relax besides the always crowded family room.

one day we got in an argument. we don't usually fight, so it was an eye opener. we realized that we were arguing about things that we had the power to change, we just had to communicate our concerns so that we could come to a compromise. space was a big deal for both of us. the first change we made was to the arrangement of our bedroom furniture.

we work and sleep opposite shifts, but we're both always home for supper time. since we sleep at different times of the day, we decided to put one of the beds against the wall and share the one. this gave us more space to use for hanging out when we're not in bed, and somewhere for me to excercise when it's too cold to do it outside. also if we have company and the livingroom is too crowded, we now have space to seat our company in our room. it's kind of our way of coping with cabin fever, making ourselves someplace to be when it's minus a million degrees out.

as for privacy and alone time, he has it pretty good and didn't have much of a complaint. most days he works afternoons or nights, and sleeps in the early day, which is when i'm at work. we made a comprimise that when it's almost time for me to go to bed, i get some alone time in the room to relax and simmer down. for the most part he'll hang out downstairs until i get up at five for work, and then he will take his turn with the sleep space.

problem solved..! for now. well you know.. as solved as it can be. i feel a lot better about sharing the space than i did before. and as it turns out, it sounds like party one is done down in the kitchen, so it's my turn to make something to eat. woohoo! lunch!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Rest in Peace White House [on the Corner]

clearly i didn't make much of this page in the past year as i had planned to, but we also didn't make much of the community. due to conflict within the community and the criticizm against it, all public posts regarding our lifestyle was halted and this page was taken down. unfortunately the conflict was on a very personal level that involved trust. and needless to say, trust is very valuable and absolutely crucial when it comes to a community lifestyle, or any relationship that one would expect to function properly.

that being said. many lessons were learned through the trials of community lifestyle, and though temporary i have stumbled into it once again. however this time, it works a lot better. the community here is smaller, five 'permanent' residents [2 female, 3 male] between the ages of 21 and 50, and a small dog. we have 2 or 3 community members that spend a lot of time here and contribute, but do not permanently reside here, and many more who come through on a weekly basis.

myself and the youngest resident are the only two that carried over to this place from the White House, i was one of the founders, and he came along near the end as a chronic couch surfer. i didn't know him before he appeared at the house, but in the months he stuck around he proved himself trustworthy. in the final moments of the White House, i decided i would take him with me until he can find a place to stay. we share the master room dorm style. it's taken a few months to get used to, but now that we have our schedules worked out, we are comfortable with our varying sleep patterns and work schedules, so we know when is best to sleep, and when we get the space to ourselves.

this setup was only meant to be a month or three, and we have found ourselves together still 6 months later. it will likely be another few months before anything changes, so in the meantime there's still much to learn. since i'm trying to get back on the blog kick, i think i'll jump back on this page and write about experiences and lessons learned from the previous house, systems that seem to work at this one, and possible plans for later in the future. things like meals [again], finances, and getting the best use out of the available space.

besides living like a hippy i've been keeping myself busy working fulltime as a warehouse supervisor/resident hippy for a major chain, using the money i make doing that and investing it into other projects such as gardening permaculture style, and helping others learn how to do the same. also attempting to regain my health after a couple years of sickness and depression, and i'm keeping track of that journey on yet another blog entitled The Sage Thrive Challenge. that's all i got for now folks.. thanks for reading! i WILL return...

Monday, March 12, 2012

Dinner for Many

having a large community of people to pitch in on meals makes dinner time easier and more economical.. but even as a group funds can be tight at times. this doesn't mean we have to go hungry, just be smarter about how food is distributed.

as an example, i wanted to make a stew for dinner today, but only had enough meat and veggies to make dinner for 4-6. most times there are 6 to 8 people at the table, so in order to stretch the meal for a larger group, we had to get creative.

i took my basic stew recipe, and cut the meat and veggies into thinner pieces than i usually would. i then thickened the liquid to more of a gravy consistency by adding a little more flour and bisto, and a different mixture of spices so that it would taste good over some rice. since it's winter, fresh leafy vegetables are more expensive being not in season, thus many meals consist of root vegetables and starches.

rice is cheap, filling and delicious, and makes it much easier to stretch a meal to feed more people. pasta works well too, but with this particular meal, rice is the better choice. now for a breakdown of the cost of today's meal.. keeping in mind that only small portions of each ingredient are needed, not the whole bag or bushel.

steak- $5
potatoes- $1.5o worth
carrots- 25 cents worth
onion-25 cents
garlic-15 cents
rice- $1.oo
spices, flour, bisto and water- less than a dollar

so for just under $10 [canadian] enough food was prepared for 8-12 servings, all bellies full and tastebuds satisfied. this is far cheaper than each individual making their own meals, buying frozen dinners, pre-made pasta packages or fast food.. and far more economical considering the energy used to prepare it. judging by the round of silence at the dinner table, it must have been a tasty meal:)

Friday, March 9, 2012

CalmUnity ReBirth

and we begin again from the beginning...

The White House [on the Corner] has undergone many changes in the past month. the biggest change being the overall atmosphere of the house as a home.

the rotation of occupants had continued throughout the month of February, and finally we have collected the peaceful, community-minded group of individuals the house has always needed.. of friends that i like to refer to as my family.

there is a long list of projects and systems that we would like to build and implement as a community, to make this house more efficient and cost-effective. system numero uno... mealtime. over the past few weeks we have been working out a meal plan starting with the biggest meal of the day, dinner.

the food in the house is no longer kept separate, with a couple minor exceptions.. one occupant of the house is passive in his presence [ie. not here often enough to contribute to community meals] and myself having to supplement meat with other protein [hemp protein etc.].

preparing one large dinner instead of 4-7 individual meals saves on energy when we only use the stove and oven once at dinner time, saves on water for clean-up, and saves money with everyone pitching small amounts towards community meals.

when spring rolls around and we get the garden growing once again, we will add 4 feet to the width to fit more produce, and possibly a fruit tree or two. last year's attempt at a garden went well enough, but without having the right people living in the house to care for it, harvest and consume the produce, there was far too much waste.

this year, everything produced will be consumed, canned, dried and saved.. and excess shared with friends and family and the surrounding community. the cost of food in the spring and summer will be far less having fresh produce available right in our own back yard.

once we get mealtimes in order and properly budgeted for, we will work on delegating other chores and responsibilities. 4 of us cook [3 of us are good at it lol] and the others pitch in on kitchen cleanup. this week we will be testing a new method of post dinner cleanup in which the sink is prepped at the same time as dinner, and the dishes are cleaned and rinsed right away as each person finishes their meal.

speaking of meals, it's just about that time again... time to get our cook on!

that's it for now, stay tuned for further updates on the calmunity rebuild project at The White House [on the Corner]!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The White House [on the Corner]

back in 2008, my partner shawn and i gave up our downtown apartment to take off backpacking across Canada. we gave away and sold all of our furniture, put our essentials into storage and left the city behind.

when we returned, the money we had saved up for first and last month's rent was spent in a kitty emergency,.. mister shaggy had fallen ill while we were gone and needed surgery to keep him alive. so instead of paying for a place to live we saved him.. and was offered a shell of a house to stay in from one of our good friends. it barely had walls, or floors.. there was no heat or running water and it was the dead of winter. but it was pretty well free until we got it fixed up... and thus the white house [on the corner] began.

for the first little bit, it was almost like winter camping. we had lights and a radio, had to go down the street to use the washroom, to visit friends and family members for a shower, and kept big 10litre jugs of water for washing and drink. we had a futon set up in what would eventually be the living room, and helped the owner to refinish it bit by bit.

as soon the first three rooms upstairs were habitable [and we had running water and heat], we designated a room for my brother to stay in.. and as the basement grew a couple more rooms, they were filled too. the owner had no intentions in starting a rooming house, but it ended up working out for the better. the house was slated to be finished and re-sold, and instead it became it's own entity, a housebound community was born.

over the years a couple of the rooms have seen multiple tenants roll through, the couches have seen many surfers, and the house has accumulated it's own group of friends. it's central location is perfect as a drop in, and the yard and spacious common area became popular hangouts for the nerds and hippies alike. we accumulated such a large group of 'regulars' that game nights, rockband parties and potlucks became a regular thing.

the house and the community is evolving still. as we enter our fourth year as a collective, we have achieved much as a community. we have a network of resources amongst each other that we can rely on, and a rounded selection of skills to share. the backyard went from having a tiny vegetable patch, to having a large community permaculture garden, which is maturing into it's second year with plans to expand. the backyard itself sees it's share of passers through, as there is plenty of space for visitors to set a tent and stay a while.

i plan to use this page to write about how the community came to be, an ideal framework for functioning as a community, and to document the changes and growth within the collective and the garden. also, to touch on other group homes and spaces from the past.

thanks for reading, stay tuned!


Saturday, June 26, 2010


Welcome to CalmUnity Living!

in this blog, an offshoot afterthought of the 'homeless how-to', i have decided to gather some thoughts, words and photos about a community style way of life. in this day and age, money and resources are tight, and it's becoming more of a challenge to stay afloat in society.

living in small community groups wastes less resources and is a good way to reduce your impact on the planet. not to mention saving a little loot, and building patience and communication skills.

i'll get back to this blog later... for now, i'm not done with the rucksack quite yet!