Cooperatives are Skill Sharing Playgrounds

By: Sarah Ditton — Development & Operations

Where can you learn to garden, to perform hooping tricks, and to fix your bike all in one place? You’ll have a pretty good chance of finding this opportunity in a housing cooperative. A place where skill-sharing is commonplace.

When you mix passionate people with a strong community, you create a playground of learning and sharing. This dynamic makes cooperatives great for learning new skills. 


You walk into the kitchen one night and smell the deep spices of a vegan indian curry. Your nose lights up and you can’t help but say, “Whoa that smells amazing.”

The cook stirs the pot and says, “Thank you! My mom taught me all sorts of classics. I’d love to show you how to make it sometime.” 

“Let’s do it!” you respond. Waving, you walk into the living room where one of your housemates is showing others how to mix acrylic paints. You haven’t done that before, could be fun. “Hey can I join?” you say. Your housemates move over to give you some room. The swirling designs give you inspiration for a new garden design that you want to share with the other gardeners…

Cooperators Love to Teach & Learn

This is common at our cooperatives. People want to share their expertise. Jennifer Fluri, researcher and BHC board member, has found that cooperators love this skill sharing culture. When she asked our cooperative residents, “what are some of the most positive things about living in co-ops” she says, “nearly everyone said they learned various new skills. Because someone knows how to fix cars, another person is an engineering student, and another knows how to knit.”

Honestly, this is one of the coolest and most radical aspects of cooperative living. To learn, to teach, to share, to communally enrichen the collective’s lives is too rare nowadays. Instead of buying and selling our skills in a marketplace (which has its place), cooperatives allow us to give and take in a more human-centered way. It’s quite beautiful. 

What have/do/would you share with others in a housing cooperative?


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