Gilchrist: Rare birds flying unusual path

After having friends or family at our house steadily since May, our final two summer visitors flew the coop Wednesday.

When you're used to living with only one other person, the experience frequently strained my patience. So many mouths to feed, dishes to do, extra laundry and cleaning, and too little downtime after a tough day at the office when guests are eager for your attention.

But as one visitor remarked (and on that note, I think I deserve a gold star for welcoming my husband's ex-wife not once but twice), I was pleased that so many wanted to see how we were settling into our new life in rural Kamloops.

And there's nothing like people in your space to make you look at yourself; seems the easygoing girl I once was has been replaced by a woman who easily loses her patience and whose neatnik tendencies border on excessive.

This is why I find the idea of people opting to live in a housing coop, as described in our Monday story, so fascinating.

The RareBirds Housing Co-operative has been planning its "intentional community" since March 2011.

The three couples and two singles (they're still looking for another couple or single interested in sharing expenses and the multi-level home they plan to build) have each committed $200,000 toward the venture and bought a property on West Battle Street.

Members in the group range in age from 46 to 72, and are truly devoted to the idea of communal, sustainable living.

They'll share a kitchen, living room, pantry, laundry, bathroom, exercise room and guest room, and each will have a private bedroom, bathroom, closet and sitting area.

During a tailgate party last month, they introduced themselves to neighbours of the plot of land they bought and have held numerous meetings, including a planning retreat, to map out communication goals and how the group will make decisions by consensus.

According to their blog (, during meetings where they are trying to decide on something, there will be a facilitator to moderate, a timekeeper and a guardian to look out for the "emotional state of individuals and the overall mood and energy of the group." Colour-coded cards are used to show someone wants to contribute to the discussion and a bell will be rung when "due process" is not followed.

Given I could barely come to consensus with my visiting parents how to cook dinner (barbecued corn or boiled, would you really microwave sweet potatoes instead of roasting them, and is that a farmed salmon?), this courteous way of resolving disputes sounds dreamy.

At my house, we generally try to ignore when an impasse mounts and hope it fades away. Alternatively, everyone butts in to add their two bits to an issue and the loudest or most persistent voice tends to take the floor.

The RareBirds' blog cites benefits to sharing living space such as having the freedom to jet off knowing someone will care for your pets, sharing great meals and never being lonely.

I think the latter would be a curse - I relish being alone and a dose of loneliness can lend good perspective.

I admire the path these RareBirds are flying but even after our guest-strewn summer, you won't find this chicken planning to joint that roost any time soon.

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