We are the children who have lived in Sophia Community for the longest, in fact, for our whole lives. Julia was born in Quaker House in 2001, and Sophia was born just down the hall in 2008. Our parents are Lisa and Don, who made the decision to raise us in community.

Julia and Sophia in boat
On Lake Wisconsin, Summer 2018

 We love living in community- we get to reap the social benefits without the responsibilities that adults in the community carry. Since we have lived in community for our whole lives, we can’t imagine what life would be like without Sophia Community. Outside of community life, both of us attend public school, sing in choirs, and take dance classes near our house. Our lives are pretty “normal” to us, but our unique living situation is certainly something we have to explain to others.      

We have grown up in a house that is a public space. The Quakers rent out parts of the house for events, so we encounter strangers in our house fairly often. We aren’t supposed to answer the door, because it is very rare that someone at the door is someone we know. Our shared bedroom, bathroom, and parent’s bedroom are our family’s only private spaces within the house. Though we don’t have the house to ‘ourselves’, we live in a much larger home than we would be able to outside of community. We also have access to a large backyard that is an anomaly in the city.

Living with various adults over time has been a great experience for us. We have grown up surrounded by people of different backgrounds. We have matured and learned by living with people who are different from our parents. Everyone we have lived with has shown us love and respect, not only as children who require patience, but as people with our own thoughts and ideas.

We have also gotten the opportunity to live with other families. That means that we get to interact with kids (who have always been) younger than us. They get to learn from us, and sometimes we learn from them. We never get to say we are bored, because there are kids to play with.

As part of community life, we have community dinner on Wednesday nights, and a dinner open to others on Sunday nights. It is hard for people to understand what living in Sophia Community is like until they come to Sunday dinner. Many of our friends now attend Sunday dinner pretty regularly because they love the environment (and the food). We always encourage people who are curious to come and see our household because it is so important in our lives.

Julia’s Reflection

 

Three kids in photo
Sophia, Amos, Julia at the Maple Syrup Festival, Spring 2018

As I get older, I appreciate how Sophia Community has shaped me more and more. I don’t think it is possible in our society to get a stronger grounding in the idea of the human family than to be raised by such a diverse and caring group of people. I thank my parents for raising me in an environment that is so unique, because it has informed and enriched my understanding of the world. In our house, we have conversations about fun topics and hard topics, and many viewpoints are present, expressing experiences that just my biological family can’t encompass. I always feel encouraged to share my opinion, which has given me a great deal of confidence in the adult world.

 

I have so many memories of good conversations, fun games, good food, and an enormous amount of love shown to me by adults. I also have gotten to be a big sister to more than just Sophia. I’ve had 11 and counting little siblings. Parents in the community open up their lives to the people in the house. I’ve gotten to feel like I’ve had a part in raising some of the little ones, which makes me proud. I think it has helped me prepare for parenting someday, but more immediately, community life has made me a solid college roomate.

Sophia’s Reflection

Kids reading
Sophia reading to Amos and Guthrie, Summer 2018

I love to wake up, go downstairs, and find people in the kitchen that I can talk to (although sometimes I’m pretty grumpy.) I have lived with 10 kids, one of which was born here when I was 7.

I find that I have a confident feeling when doing something I think is mature. I was raised to know what is right and wrong, and it has helped me a lot. When I hear “growing up in community,” Ithink growing up with family. My family is community, and I treasure my family. I also am thankful that my family (the community) is always willing to volunteer to get me places when they could be lounging or working.

It helps my education to live in community. I learn great stuff, not school related, but choice related and sometimes spiritually related.

In community, there is always something to look forward to, such as parties, retreats, and coming home to friends I can talk to. I can talk about my day and what is troubling me, and people will listen.

It’s sad when people move from the community, but I’m happy if they are happy. When people move in, it’s a joy. I meet new people who I probably would not meet if they weren’t interested in community. I love community.