By Sam Nickerson at Emmanuel College
Last August, a small group of young adults took a radical departure from conventional living when they signed the lease for their home on Amory St. in Jamaica Plain.
All in their 20s, the group challenges the traditional concept of family by operating their home as an anarchist collective.
A collective is not just a house of people sharing food, according to member Kate Bonner-Jackson, but an “intentional community based on consensus decision-making.”
Some members are divided on whether collective living could replace the standard nuclear family home. Stephanie Bird feels that her home is a microcosm for an ideal society. The collective aims to do away with oppression and hierarchy in favor of a safe and equal space. Stephanie Bird even plans to raise a child in the house due to the available support.
Boston has long been tied to alternative living, dating back to the early 19th century anarchist Josiah Warren. The Amory St. crew is quick to mention that there are still many collectives operating in Boston, representing a diverse spectrum of ages and ideologies, and the number is quickly growing
For some members, this is their first foray into alternative living. Others, like Lesley University graduate Jake Bison, have lived in collectives in other Boston neighborhoods.
“Living here really keeps you grounded in your ideals,” said Bison. Most members met one another at demonstrations and through community meetings.
The collective members contribute five percent of their paychecks to a house fund, which is used to purchase food and other necessities. On the refrigerator is a chart that assigns household chores, including vegan dinner preparation, on a rotating schedule.
Wednesday nights, they hold a house meeting where members check in with each other and discuss community events. The house also features a library and a bike workshop.