uRth Turnover: More Women, More Diversity

Co-op life poses challenges every single day. Several HAUS members and alumni recently attended annual NASCO conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which included workshops on strategies to handle those challenges.

It’s not easy to live in close proximity with so many individuals, all with their own talents and personalities (and quirks). It can get more difficult when members depart and new members take their places. In addition to missing housemates’ presence to which one has become accustomed, getting used to new sets of talents and personalities can be disconcerting. If it’s hard for those who already live there, imagine what it’s like for those just moving in: a major adjustment for those who have not previously dwelt in a co-op.

In the next week or so, uRth HAUS will say goodbye to three resident members. We also bade farewell to a member in October. (At least one of the four may stay on as an associate member.) All of their positions have been filled, but finding replacements is only part of the job. When multiple turnover happens, the task of matching the new members with rooms and chores is one of the bigger challenges. We have posted previously about this real-world form of “Tetris.”

From the perspective of an original uRth HAUS member, the realization that only three of the original 15 members remain is jarring. The entire atmosphere has changed radically since October 2012. In just over two years, 20 members and sub-lessees have moved into uRth and back out. Imagine having 35 different housemates in the space of 25 months.

Members leave for a variety of reasons: e.g., switching houses, moving in with signifs, job opportunities elsewhere, medical and psychological reasons, or just being overwhelmed by the challenges of co-op living.

That original group of 15 was a pretty standard Euro-American bunch consisting of eight men and seven women. All but one member was between 21 and 35 years of age. In this most international and diverse of American cities, we had to look below the surface for anything resembling diversity: e.g., differences in religious heritage and sexual orientation.

As of December 2014, however, we are about to become a house with ten women and six men—and one of those men is intersex, the second trans-man to inhabit uRth. Among our residents we will have

  • two members from South America
  • two with roots in México
  • two with African ancestry
  • one from East Asia, and
  • one of Arab descent.

This group doesn’t just welcome or embrace diversity; it is diversity, and justifiably proud of it.

If you think you’re up for the challenges that co-op living presents, we encourage you to apply for membership. Please read the Membership page carefully before proceeding to the online application. There may not be an opening right away, but we’ll have your contact information to let you know when a member has given notice.

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