Planet Community Midwest Tour
Personal Update #2 from the Road
Our trip to the University of Michigan was a quick 20 minute drive from the trifecta cohousing communities in Ann Arbor.
I (Aaron) was taken back to my college days complete with the scarce parking, swarming students, beautiful tree-lined streets and the historic buildings surrounding the campus.
We visited Luther House, one of 16 co-housing units that can sleep 49 students in either single or double occupancy rooms. Austin gave us a quick tour and I felt completely at home. Rae and I used our cameras to document the industrial kitchen, large dining room, student rooms and casual seating areas with quirky artwork, murals, hand-me-down furniture and the spirit of a well-loved and active family home.
Photo below: Austin from the ICC Luther House
Over the course of the next two days we got to see Black Elk House, John Nakamura House, as well as the Inter-cooperative Council (ICC) headquarters. They are situated in between fraternity and sorority houses which adds to the stark contrast of how they each operate. They run as democratically-organized, student-led organizations intended to improve the lives of students, and they seek to be as inclusive and environmentally low impact as possible. We got a chance to sit in on a student rep staff meeting at the ICC, the non-profit organization overseeing the operations of all 16 houses
Photo below: ICC staff meeting, with interviewees Miranda and Ann Marie
From the way they prepare meals, to how they organized meetings―each house attempts to empower their members regardless of class, race or sexual identity. Overall the support and community in friendship we witnessed during our time demonstrated that what they’re offering is really important and seems to be making college life less complicated and more affordable.
I wish I had known about cohousing when I was a college student. It offers an equitable and conscious environment for learning all while having a great time too.
On our last night, we ate dinner at a great Indian restaurant in the neighborhood and got to bed early in our little trailer/mobile video production studio. I flew the drone when we weren’t conducting interviews or shuffling around the giant Victorian houses trying to capture the essence of living there. During my last drone flight I happened to document one of our subjects on their way to class by bicycle and the footage is gorgeous. I can’t wait to see it in the Planet Community video series.
We included a bonus image below of us filming with Mary from Great Oak Cohousing.
For more information, and to watch the 1st Episode, visit ic.org/PlanetCommunity