It takes a village
Community,  Health,  New World,  Support

Nourishing Neighbourhoods

The short story. Let’s create nourishing neighbourhoods! A simple form of community or togetherness that is more flexible and requires much less effort than intentional communities. We can live in the same village/area (I personally prefer maximum 15 minutes walking or cycling distance) together with other like-minded people, and we can support each other, meet, call/text whenever we have the capacities and feel it comes with joy. This means that we don’t drain ourselves for the community but instead make sure that we are as nourished as possible. Which then makes us more healthy and gives us more energy to give to others. We are connected and helpful, and we do our best for ourselves and each other to be nourished, i.e. we honour boundaries and individual needs, we offer help and welcome help, we are respectful and caring (all of this towards others AND towards ourselves!). At the same time, every household – naturally – has their own space. A great place to start a nourishing neighbourhood could for example be a village that has experienced some depopulation and is looking for new inhabitants, or you could start looking for like-hearted humans in your current area and connect. 

The longer story. Throughout the past 15 years or so of my life, I have been longing for community. Before, I had some form of community “be default”, for example through my family and school friends (when I was still at school and living at home), my hobbies, my fellow students or my work colleagues. But after moving places and countries several times and as my life changed and most of the settings, and especially when I became a mum, none of these communities were left. Which was both a bit lonely but also very freeing, because it opened the space to create a community by choice. Ever since then, I have felt the strong urge to surround myself almost exclusively with humans who share many of my values, who truly accept me and whose company feels uplifting. What a gift and what a support!

They say that you become the average of the five persons you spend the most time with in life. And while I am not true if this is 100% true, I can for sure say that we are deeply impacted by the humans around us, and that they/our relationships contribute to the well-being of our family. So for me it is absolutely vital to choose wisely who I want to have in our life and where I want us to live.

One of the thoughts in my early days of mamahood where finding an eco village, collective or co-living space of some sorts. But after visiting lots of these, getting involved with some and observing several, it became clear to me that living so closely together as in intentional communities and similar spaces is actually very challenging. Where to live, what areas (not) to share, how to contribute to the project, how to make decisions, which rules should be set up (plant based vs. animal foods, sugar and screens for the kids or not, alcohol, smoking,…), the commitments and much more. Already the starting process is demanding lots of time, energy and money from everyone involved – and all of these resources were limited for me. Also, I have observed that many of these communities are struggling so much. Maybe this is simply not the optimal form of togetherness? Maybe it is too intense? Or maybe many of us are not ready yet? I realised that at least for our family, another form of community is more suitable at the moment. And I have noticed that it is similar for others, too. Some already feel overwhelmed by the thought of a meeting the needs of all individuals in a larger group, of the communication challenges, obligations and expectations. 

But we DO need togetherness, a village or a family by choice that is close by. In the past years, I got to experience beautiful forms of community – but was lacking the physical closeness. “Closeness” as in walking distance. And I started envisioning, as an alternative to an eco village, to find an “ordinary” village that has space for some newcomers. So that we – and preferably some other unschooling/like hearted families – could move in there, without a long process and without any extra obligations and agreemnts. We would be able to both interact with “ordinary” people – which hopefully would be people on all different walks of life so we could create a great mix – and we could let our community grow organically.  Meet whenever and however we want, having only short walking or cycling distances in between each other, having our own home/our own space, being there for and with others when it works well for us and so on. Eventually, I was very fortunate to find exactly this, and I so much appreciate this form of living together. 

As I was pondering one day about the ideal form of living close to others in today’s world, I came up with the expression “nourishing neighbourhoods”, and it resonates much with much vision. A village or an area where several like-hearted families and individuals live, and they live their own lives while also knowing each other, offering and receiving support when possible and desired. 

One of the big topics for me is distance. Both because I don’t like spending much time of my life in cars or buses, and also because it makes the togetherness to so much more of a project. What a difference for coming over for a cup of tea if you are living five minutes from each other vs. if you need to drive 30 minutes! Or when the kids want to play and just live around the corner from each other. 

So I hope that this might be inspiration to some of you who – as so many others – are longing for togetherness and support but feel that an intentional community or something similar is too much at the moment. I feel that this might be a solution. It could be either finding a village that is longing to be re-populated or just moving to any village or area where you find a handful of like-hearted families/individuals. You can meet up to get to know each other initially and share honestly what you wish for and what you can/want to offer. And then you can see where it grows. Just knowing that there is someone close by who can pick up your groceries, come over with a cooked meal or be with your toddler for an hour when you feel sick and just need to sleep makes such a difference! I remember moving to my grandmother’s house temporarily. We discovered to live right next to the garden of the sweetest mum and her gorgeous boy. I remember how I felt SO nourished whenever we would just exchange a few words over the fence or spontaneously have a cup of tea in the gras on a sunny Sunday morning… Just these few moments and the feeling of their good energy close by made a huge difference for my life.  

Part of making this work is not only learning/daring to ask for help, but also to accept and embrace help! It sounds so simple, yet I know from myself and other women that this can be SO challenging. But have you ever been in the position to offer someone else help, and the other person totally refused? It happened to me and my kids a few weeks ago. We could have easily helped a lady, without any challenges or sacrifices on our side. But she absolutely refused. I could almost read her thoughts (so I think at least) that she didn’t want to be a burden to me since I already had my kids to take care of, and that she “should” be able to manage by herself, that it would be a sign of weakness to “give up” and accept the help. To us, this felt really sad. It would have been a great joy to us to do this small favor for this woman! This was a great reminder for me that helping out is not necessarily a hassle for other but can also be a source of joy, meaningfulness and sense of togetherness. 

Anyways. Back to the Nourishing Neighbourhoods! A summary: living with a few like-hearted in close proximity (preferably in a few minutes walking or cycling distance, but definitely not more than a few minutes by car, in my opinion), with the mindset to help each other out. Offering help, asking for support and accepting support, checking in with each other every now and then and giving each other the assurance that we are in this life together. 

Of course, nothing is written in stone and this is just a model for inspiration.

What are your thoughts on this? What are your and your family’s needs? What are you longing for? Can you maybe create a nourishing neighbourhood right where you live, invite others to connect and start to check in with others once a week or so, just to show that you care and that your help truly is just a phone call (or a walk down the road) away? Or would it be an option for your family to find a neighbourhood like this, so every day life feels a bit more safe and connected, maybe even more meaningful? 

Life in the past decades but especially in the past two years has been a great reminder that togetherness and the sense of belonging is essential to our health. Plus, it is vital as a part of the foundation of our new world. The inspiration, support, space holding, witnessing, encouragement, collaboration, nourishment, energy, hope and love – all of it!

If you are looking for new connections and community of various kinds, maybe any of the current offerings or events will be supportive for you. Also, you can read more about the topic of community and togetherness here

Much love and prayers for more healing and healthy togetherness,



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