In search of his tribe: what most modern people lack
Zaira Koshmambetova, a beautiful 40-year-old Kazakh woman, sits opposite me at a coffee shop not far from the White House in Washington. We studied together at Ohio State University in the middle of 2000's, but have not seen each other since. Subsequently, I got married, emigrated to the USA, gave birth to a child, for more than 10 years I have been working for the Voice of America. The biography of Zaire is more variegated and contains marriage, divorce, numerous travels, dramatic career changes and other adventures.
“But now I'm doing great,” she says. “I quit my job, I'm trying to start my own business, and I'm living in coliving in Denver.” "Coliving?" "Yes, four people live in the house, together with the owner." “Don't you bore you?” I remember my experience of student life. “No, there is enough space. The house has 8 rooms, 4 bathrooms, 2 kitchens, 2 living rooms and a large garden - there is enough space. It's great to live with friends and also save on rent. " Zaire shares her dream - to build a farm outside the city, where people who are in a transitional period of their lives would live. They could work there, or otherwise contribute to society.
“Do you want to found a cult? Or a collective farm? ”- I hook her. "No, it's just very difficult in this country to stop to think about what to do next with your life, especially if you have no savings."
Ukrainians in the US "caught the trend"
People in the transitional period of their lives - between careers, study and work, between relationships - are the main, but not the only clients of coliving in New York, founded by Ukrainians - Outpost Club. The company, which has opened its eighth coliving house, is the third largest in the market in New York.
With one of the founders, Sergei Starostin, we talked in May. I was amazed at how quickly their company is growing - they started the business just a year and a half ago. Sergey explains that they offer something that people in New York really lack.
“Probably, now we are in a society where we are united by electronics, but socially divided. We may have thousands of followers, friends on Facebook, but there is no one to go out in the evening, have a beer or coffee, ”he says.
Starostin says that both the size of the house and the number of residents are all optimized so that people can establish strong ties with each other. If there are many rooms in the house or individual apartments where several residents live are small, then people will get tired of each other and avoid communication - this is known to everyone who lived in a communal apartment or student dormitory. It also organizes joint activities in which residents are encouraged to participate, such as going to the cinema, museum, party or sporting events. We found residents of a house in Brooklyn playing basketball. One of the tenants is in charge of organizing the events, who takes on a leadership role, like the headman.
The owners of the company have developed a whole system for preventing conflicts and toxic people - from screening to helping in resolving disputes. If the tenants cannot resolve the problem among themselves, then their complaints are listened to by the leader of the house and another person who makes sure that this leader is not biased. If it is not possible to reconcile the roommates, the person can always move to another house of the company. According to the leader of one of the houses, Keyleb Simmons, the most common reason for quarrels is too loud music. But they don't argue about whose turn it is to wash the kitchen - all the common areas are cleaned by a cleaning company.
One of the residents of the house, a sculptor from Brazil Taisia Sentus, told us that in the city kolivnig helps, both in terms of work - to find clients and partners, and personally. "This is family. If you have a bad day, you came home and you have someone to talk to. Especially here in New York, you can feel very lonely, although there are so many people around. "
Starostin believes that this trend will only grow, because there is no longer room for building, and young people later get married and buy their own homes.
Copenhagen and San Francisco are the founders of the trend
The modern phenomenon of coliving began in San Francisco, the New Yorker writes, from the so-called “hacker estates”: young programmers settled in large houses, where they lived and worked. In 2014, 23-year-old Tom Koriere formalized this process by founding Campus, which rented homes and sold the right to live in them. And it was already a separate lifestyle, which included frequent parties and the ability to move from house to house.
Other colivings of the 20th century are communes in Denmark. A newspaper article questioning the modern family structure inspired several families to found the Saettedammen project in 1972.
To a certain extent, Israeli kibbutzim can be considered a kolivnig. By the way, the executive director and one of the founders of the largest company on the market - WeLive (a subsidiary of WeWork) - Adam Nauman, is a native of Israel, lived in a kibbutz as a teenager. Having moved to New York with his sister, he felt that he lacked a sense of community.
“When I lived in the kibbutz, I felt such joy,” he says in an interview with The New Yorker. - My parents divorced, it was a difficult time in my life. But the feeling that I was part of the community was so real. It gave me the strength to deal with my personal problems. I always knew that being together is better than being alone. "
After moving to New York, he and his sister walked around the house, knocking on the door and inviting residents for coffee. The neighbors responded with enthusiasm, which, I think, was not prevented by the fact that Naumann's sister is a model. Adam saw a niche market.
How migrants became Indians
Modern kolivnigi, unlike the kibbutzim and the Danish commune, so far mainly consist of singles of both sexes. But both Starostin in our interview and those interviewed by the New Yorker journalist say that the next in line are families. Ukrainians plan to start with single mothers, who should be helped by the experience of living in colivinig with childcare.
But in general, the idea is, to put it mildly, not new. This is how prehistoric Homo sapiens and their predecessors lived in small groups of 25-30 people for hundreds of thousands of years - all the time in the agrarian revolution, 10 years ago and centuries later. Members of the hunter-gatherer group and early agrarians spent most of their time together, hunting together, gathering roots, caring for children, and sharing their spoils and crops.
Sebastian Janger - journalist, screenwriter, writer, documentary filmmaker and imposing man - in his book Tribe: On Homecoming and a sense of belonging, proves that man has evolved to live in small groups, tribes. Separated into separate families, people have lost a large source of psychological comfort. This is how he explains the increase in cases of depression and other mental disorders, which are growing precisely in rich countries. The less people are forced to rely on each other and share the fruits of their labor, the more they suffer from mental disorders, he writes.
And loneliness in the United States is considered by some psychiatrists to be one of the most threatening epidemics, which are associated with many health problems - not only with mental disorders, but also with high blood pressure, inflammation, heart disease, and generally increased mortality.
And under whatever difficult circumstances a modern person would not fall into a situation socially close to the prehistoric, it gives him such psychological comfort and emotions that nothing else gives. Janger gives several examples.
To many immigrants, from the first to the beginning of the 20 century, the lifestyle of the Indians seemed extremely attractive. Many of them joined the tribes, but there was practically no movement in the opposite direction.
"Even if an Indian child grew up with us, learned our language and traditions," Janger quotes a letter from Benjamin Franklin to a friend in 1753, "once he meets his relatives and talks to one Indian, he can no longer be persuaded to return to us." On the other hand, writes Franklin, whites captured by the Indians cannot be kept at home after liberation: "Soon our way of life begins to reject them ... and at the first opportunity they run back into the forest."
Janger also cites the memories of those who survived natural disasters and wars. Unlike many modern films and TV shows, where after the collapse of civilization, everyone wages a war against everyone, in reality, the survivors begin to unite and help each other. Those who survived the bombing of London and the siege of Sarajevo told the author that that time was terrible and beautiful at the same time, because only then did they feel a sense of unity with their surroundings. This feeling is familiar to many Ukrainians from the experience of the Orange Revolution and the Dignity Revolution.
The sense of military brotherhood is also one of the examples of group unity that is difficult to find in civilian life.
Tribe in Falls Church
I don't think I want to live in coliving today. However, I feel that over the past two years my life has become more comfortable - after moving from apartment to house, we have established strong ties with neighbors. Parties together, walks with children and dogs, mutual help and gifts - all this helps to recreate a little sense of community. And I want to wish Zaire success with her farm - she caught the spirit of the times.
The original column is published on the website. Ukrainian service “Voice of America”.
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