The many advantages of community living in present-day SA

2016-01-18 09:59


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Pietermaritzburg -Something different this week, and I can’t say it’s really a green issue, but it’s been interesting in our home. Community living of one sort or another has many benefits. 

A few might be shared labour, reduced costs, intergenerational contact and security.

Caring for a home, the cooking, mowing of the grass and care of the garden and general maintenance are time consuming and for many tiresome. Having one cook prepare a meal for seven, instead of two cooks preparing two meals for five and two is a significant saving of both time and money.

In our green home, where granny loves gardening but dislikes cooking, it’s meant that she can grow and reap vegetables, and our daughter does much of the cooking. It means two men to mow the grass, always tiresome, but it makes a big contribution to the compost heap, so important in the organic garden, and do the general maintenance around the house.

Right now, the 35-year-old brandering in the roof needs replacing in parts and it’s so much easier with two sets of hands. My son-in-law loves caring for the pool, and I’m never happier than when fiddling with the solar generator or water reticulation from our reservoir that bring us free electricity and water.

This year is going to be a crunch year for South Africans by all accounts. Community living means huge savings in costs. One rates bill, two small accounts, in our case, for water and electricity, and one DStv bill. We make do with one fewer vehicle. That alone means a saving of perhaps R10 000 per month. There is less wastage of food as the watermelon is always finished, and there’s nothing left of one chicken after dinner. When there are leftovers, the worm farm turns it into compost, and the surplus worms go to feed the chickens. That’s all my job.

Perhaps the most important of all is contact between the generations. In general, parents at the end of the day are exhausted, but grandparents just love to help with homework. Granny is teaching the mites to knit and sew, and I’m looking forward to the day when my grandson is old enough to help me care for the bees and learn carpentry skills and general maintenance around the shared home.

Parents are able to go out for dinner, or to a movie, or away for a weekend, and we love to step into the breach. Reading to the children before bed is a treat for grandparents, but perhaps a chore for tired parents. Passing on the family ethos from one generation to the next is an importance that is being lost in the bedlam.

One other useful issue is that often two members may join together to develop and share a business, perhaps from home, but also in the CBD. It means that both parties can always take proper holidays, leaving the other behind to hold down the fort.

And, lastly, there’s almost always someone at home. Those who read The Witnessknow that there were a slew of home robberies over the Christmas period. Most of these occurred while the home was vacant. With someone at home all the time, not only does it create a presence, but provides backup in times of danger; and thieves know that. They’ll target your neighbours instead.

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