Before “Cohousing”

Today’s post was written by one of our founding members, Caroline. 

Of all of us, she has probably the longest history with intentional communities so it seemed good to let her story be first.  

Please note that any text in italics is mine, whereas the plain text is Caroline’s.

In 1945 my parents helped a small group of progressive people found an “intentional community” in Chester County, outside of Philadelphia, called Tanguy Homesteads.

 

 

 

Thanks, Daily Mail, but not that Tan Guy!

 

 

 

The founders were mostly Quaker and largely white, but their goal was to be both inter religious and interracial. They pooled their resources and bought a 200 acre farm, leased each family a 2 acre lot, and had community potlucks, folk dances and business meetings in the “Big House” — the locals apparently thought Tanguy folks were communists!

Photo credit: Matt Bateman, Flickr

 

 

Really?  This is what I think communists build.

 

 

 

Pretty soon we had dug a community pond for swimming and skating in season, and there was a lot of Co Op childcare in parenting. Eventually one family began a small automatically ratcheting wrench business that employed several other families’ members.

Our family were Associate Member for years, because we already owned some land nearby, but after my father‘s untimely death, my mother and her six children (I was the third) moved into a new home in 1957.

amazing
Sweat Equity

It was “Techbuilt” (somewhat like modular housing today) and the contractor was a member of Tanguy.  We put a lot of sweat equity into that house!

 

 

 

I attended the local junior high for grade 8, and started going to Westown Friends (Quaker) School In grade 9. By grade 11 I was a boarding student, though my home was only 2 miles away, and then I went to college in Boston, far away. These separations meant I really didn’t have very much of an “older teenage” or young adult view of the way the Tanguy community worked, but it was a terrific place to grow up.

I do remember many shared activities (games nights, “progressive” dinners, life-saving classes in the pond, a summer youth production of West Side Story, etc.), and my best friend lived just down the road.

Valerie's Friends from Haiti
My friend down the road: I’ll walk you home and then you walk me home and then I’ll walk you home… Best summer night ever!

Not surprisingly after such a cooperative-based upbringing, I’ve often lived in shared housing. Almost always these homes were owned by me and/or my late husband, so there wasn’t a completely equal basis to decision-making.  Still, I’m used to having neighbours who do more than share the proverbial cup of sugar and I look forward to being able to really build close relationships and cooperation within Concorde.

Tanguy Homesteads, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania circa 1970.

 

For the record: I was a member of Terra Firma in the 90s, before I went away to do research in England & before TF actually bought the homes where it is now based. I have also been a (fairly inactive) member of Convivium.

 

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