Cooperative living has been an integral part of Stanford University’s residential system for the last 41 years. It’s been an integral part of my life for the last four years, and this is what coops mean to me. Cooperative living, to me, means sharing ownership and responsibility not just for a building, its supplies, and its upkeep, but also for the health of the community. This goes to the heart of an “intentional community.” We relate to each other not just by accident, by default, or by dint of living in physical proximity, but because we intend to make a thriving community by putting in the work to make it happen, work that is paid out tenfold in the joys of an authentic and deep connection to the friends we live with.
Sustainability-minded, socially responsible, and a little counter-cultural, we are here day in and day out, proving that it is possible to live in a way that’s good for the residents AND good for the world. Whether you’re in Chi Theta Chi, Columbae, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, Hammarskjöld, Kairos, Synergy, or Terra, you share in the cooperative model and in its joys.
The feel of daily life includes the idea that compassion and compromise starts at home. It includes the idea that active listening and consensus decision-making hold the promise of change in a world tethered to ideologies, dogmatism, and partisanship. We share the most psychologically central and intimate parts of our lives with our housemates, deciding where people sleep, what food will be bought and served, explorations of the idea of personal space: all are part of being open and honest with other people about your needs, and the onus is on the group to find creative solutions that meet the needs of every member. We are all equally important voices in the community, and collectively our voices sing the praises of cooperative living that we and the world would be tragically lacking without.