The writer is Penelope Green, and the subject is the new urban communal living. Actually, one of my favorite subjects is evolved hippiedom. So, I'm going to read all this:
... Ms. Berger and others seem to share the ideals of the old-fashioned communes of yore, except that their groups are tiny, urban-centric and linked to outside interests like fixing bikes or, here in New York City, membership in the Park Slope food co-op. And like communes, many collectives give themselves names: The House of Tiny Egos (a name that’s decidedly more evocative than, say, Findhorn, that of the hoary Scottish commune) is a five-person collective in a century-old brick bungalow in Bed-Stuy. Not only do they aim to remain of the world, they hope for a convenient location, one that’s near all the major subway stops....Looking for work in social justice... Why does that strike me as so funny? And another thing I like about Penelope Green is: She put "social justice" in quotes.
Ms. Berger met Ms. Hazard, who had been living in the East Village in her mother’s town house and looking for work in “social justice”...
... she said, at a permaculture conference in Vermont last summer. Permaculture is big with the collective-living crowd...Permaculture?
... it’s a model for sustainable living that extrapolates principles from natural ecologies — like how different plants grow together for their mutual benefit — and applies them to other systems like, well, group housing.Culture... as if it grows. Permanent... when even plants are not permanent. But why not have an ugly and silly word to denote your dreams?
I've had enough Hazard-Berger. On to the next exemplary communalists:
[I]n Philadelphia,... three roommates... needed five more.Very important? Not just important. I love the way they didn't reject the non-like-minded. They just threatened to make them feel uncomfortable. Appropriate, for folks so in love with the prefix "anti-."
Their advertisement on Craigslist [included:]
“You will probably not feel at home here unless anti-ableism, anti-ageism, anti-classism, anti-racism, consent, trans-positivity and queer-positivity, etc., are very important to you,” the ad read.
One of the housemates is "Gauge, 30, who is transitioning from he to she and works in an S&M store, and also declined to give a last name. ('My family has no idea where I am — or if I’m even alive — and I’d like to keep it that way,' she said.)" No last name, but her first name is Gauge. They'll never suspect it's their Gauge.
Ms. Feigelson explained that they were being “super-selective,” because an activist house, which is what she hopes theirs will be, she said, “can create tension.”Yeesh. And ha ha. Penelope Green is, I think, totally trashing them... and the whole "activist" self-image.
At this point in the article, Green consults Helen Fisher," a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University and a relationship expert (she is the scientific adviser to Chemistry.com, a spinoff of the dating site Match.com)." Fisher reads these ridiculous Craigslist ads and says, not what I would say — i.e., these people seem way too annoying to try to live with — but:
The idealized, small-scale communities they described reminded her of the hunting and gathering bands of pre-history. So she was a bit concerned that their creators didn’t seem to be searching for individuals with different skill sets. Dr. Fisher, whose new book, “Why Him? Why Her?” explores the neurochemistry of gender differences, concluded that the ad writers were by and large “estrogen-expressives, or what I call Negotiators,” which she defined as “compassionate, verbal and emotive,” as well as “Explorers, meaning those expressive of the dopamine system, or people who are energetic, creative, politically liberal.”Negotiators? Compassionate? The hell! Could you please squirt a little more buy-my-book juice into your analysis, Dr. Fisher? Do people who are politically liberal really deserve to be brought down in this queasy sea of estrogen?
I think most people — most people I'd be at all interested in living with — would read this article and dream only of a solitary cell to live and be left alone in.
And, I should add, I never wanted to live in a hippie commune either, back in the old days.