Ever heard of the Shedders?
If you really knew me, you would know I’m a community junkie. I’ve created several yoga communities over the almost 40 years that I’ve been teaching yoga. I’m part of the Manning Valley singing community and perform with the Wingsong Choir. As well, I participate in activities at the Mitchells Island community hall, the public school and the Yoga Shed. I work as a volunteer in the midcoast Palliative care community. And belong to book clubs and writing groups, too.
It makes sense then that I would live communally too. We call our small ‘intentional community’ the Shedders, comprised of three couples living under one roof. We arrived at our name partly because of the big green shed on our property. And partly because we had to shed so much stuff just to be able to fit into one house. My housemate, Michael, named us in 2005, and the name has stuck.
The media has been interested in what we’ve achieved as seniors living communally. You could google ‘Shedders ABC’ or ‘Shedders Sydney Morning Herald’ or ‘Shedders Judith Lucy’ and see what comes up.
Some hits you’ll get when you put Shedders in your browser are links to my housemate Heather’s blog, as well as her ebook, Shedders. Heather has chronicled the early part of our adventure in living in her excellent book about learning to live menage-a-three-couples.
Shedders community scores well
Heather was asked to present our story at a Bellingen forum a while back called ‘Affordable Housing Local Solutions’. She spoke about the Shedders’ innovative approach to housing and said there was much to recommend it.
In Heather’s words:
Some 17 years ago, when we first began talking about our vision of sharing retirement together, our conversations centered around three things. We wanted to avoid isolation as we age, to stretch our retirement dollars as far as possible, and to provide support for each other through tough times.
How has that gone?
Shared finances. My husband, Rick, and I live in a beautiful home on a 4-acre lot with sweeping views, near the ocean. We travel overseas several months every year. Living in common with the other Shedders, we have been able to consolidate equipment and appliances, for instance, one ride-on mower, one chain saw, one whipper snipper, one washing machine, one dishwasher. We enjoy quality meals every night of the week, as we share cooking and buy in bulk when we can. Rick and I could not have afforded this lifestyle on our own nest egg. This community has saved us hundreds of thousands of dollars and let us live more lightly on the planet. 9 out of 10 for this one.
Mutual support. I experience day-to-day support in our Shedder environment. Sometimes it’s a helping hand with something I’m doing, sometimes it’s a cup of tea or a “How’s it going?” On a more intense scale, over the time we’ve been together, three of us have had major surgeries. A steady flow of support has meant that there’s never been one over-worked spouse who has to carry the whole burden. We’ve been there for each other. 9.5 out of 10.
Avoiding isolation. Unless someone is away, we see each other daily. Mostly we dine together in the evenings. We share a strong interest in yoga, in choral singing, in books, in palliative care, in gardening, in cooking. Not only that, but these shared interests lead us into larger communities – the yoga classes, choir workshops, the garden club, the palliative care community – that fill our lives to the brim. We are about as un-isolated as people can be. 10 out of 10 on this one.
We Shedders have invented our own future, and we like it. Anyone could do it.