Let the right ones in: Musings on which friends to bring into your Cabin neighborhood

As I posted in our Discord, this is based on a question a friend half-jokingly asked when I first mentioned Cabin: “Are you creating a new community WITHOUT US?”

And the honest answer is… yes. Without some of my friend group, whom I’d still be very happy to see at some more -open events but who do not seem the right fit for being an active part of my Cabin neighborhood. But how do I even decide on that? How can one possibly define who belongs and who doesn’t?

The decision is obviously up to each individual Neighborhood Steward and the neighborhood’s community itself. Still, here, I’d like to start a discussion on which qualities make for a more likely fit and which don’t when talking about my Cabin Neighborhood. None of this is final. Let’s just use it as a starting point for a discussion.

So here goes.

Common Language

This is more obvious in some neighborhoods than in others. I’m building my neighborhood in Haifa: a city with diverse local population, a big international student presence, and an influx of Russian-speakers so big that essentially became the biggest single language group. So my friends come from at least 3 very distinct language groups. And when there is enough speakers of one of those languages, they tend to get into their own clique, making others feel visibly uncomfortable. It happens to be one of my native languages that I love conversing in, yet it creates overall tension in the group dynamic.

But this problem can happen even when everyone speaks the same language in terms of English, Spanish, etc. but a different language in terms of parents vs. singles (hence Cabin splitting the two), academics and laborers, avid sports fans and telenovela lovers, etc. No judgment against any of these or other groups, but the lack of a common language can create subgroups or just make people like they can’t communicate with one another. This is not to say that I want my neighborhood to be a tight group of 100% likeminded people — the entire reason I started my suppers was to bring together people from my different social circles, and some strangers too.

Initiative

Some of my friends always volunteer to make a dish for dinner, help clean up afterwards, help plan, bring games, etc. Others are happy to come hang out but in a bit more consumer fashion. I prefer more of the former in my neighborhood.

The Vibe Matrix

The people who come off having a bad vibe with my events I just don’t invite again. The hard question is what to do about people with whom I vibe great but who vibe with another person in my friend group. With suppers, it’s possibly to play the curation game of inviting one this week and another the next. But with a neighborhood…? Maybe it’s actually good to have several options for different types of people and subgroups within a neighborhood. I.e., hanging out with the loud extroverts one day and with the quiet introverts another (forgive the gross simplification). All in all, I’d prefer to at least start building my neighborhood with people who vibe with everyone there. And then, maybe together we can figure out who else we can comfortably let in.

And Nothing Else Matters

There are factors that - at this time - I don’t see mattering much in determining fit. For example, early bird vs. night owl. Yes, it can lead to some negotiations about noise, but isn’t negotiation part of any co-living/community building? Same with other lifestyle factors, like diet. Yes, it would be hard to have a shared kitchen that’s gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, kosher, and (hopefully) clean. But I prefer everyone to have own living space anyway, and the common spaces can be negotiated. In terms of people of different professions, yes, that could be a common language thing but not necessarily. An accountant and a musician can vibe perfectly well in the right community setting. Lastly, the question of building a community while also traveling away from it part of the year is a big one. I do exactly that (with the expected challenges). Still, I believe that a community can be built by and for those who are not always there or those who may leave the area entirely in a year or two. As long as enough people stick around to keep it going.

What Did I Miss?

What considerations would you add? What are your thoughts on the ones mentioned? It’s an open discussion, after all, so time to open it up :slight_smile:

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Uggg I love these thoughts so much.

Big yes to everything you said.

Generosity
Some thoughts I had yesterday as I prepped for my neighborhood gatherings (post coming soon!):
I really want a culture of generosity in my neighborhood. “Initiative” like you said feels very similar. Generosity is another word that really touches me.

I love people who are generous conversationalists - asking thoughtful questions, good listeners, moving the conversation toward what is meaningful for others and ideally places of shared meaning.

Sharing Food
Sharing food is an act of generosity too and it’s SUCH a love language for me. If we make a meal together (doesn’t need to be extravagant at all) I feel levels of nourishment I’ll never feel when I make myself food. Offering to clean is a big one. I feel more myself when I’m sharing food and saying “take whatever you need from the fridge”. Last night at my neighborhood gathering I gave away this incredible banana bread I made and it felt so much more enjoyable to see other people love it than for me to eat all of it over the coming week. Storing meat in the belly of my brother felt like love, felt like an investment in collective abundance and unforeseeable future goodness to come.

Cleaning & Meaning
Another expression of generosity and initiative is offering to clean the hosts house. One definition of love I like is “your needs are my needs”. Thus offering to clean feels like a communal expression of love. Clearly, your kitchen is a mess because of this event. Having a clean kitchen is a need you likely have so I’m gonna help meet it for you. The more conscious thought could be “oh I want to help my friend” - but to me, it feels like an ancient knowing that we’re not meant to be hyper-independent single humans, we’re meant to be in groups, in tribes where our lives contribute to something larger than us and to the lives of others all. the. time. We live in a global meaning crisis and to me the simplest solution is giving of yourself generously to community. Service is meaningful. Shifting one’s sense of self from individual to group is meaningful. Showing up to relationships week after week is meaningful.

I said to @jonbo (my partner) that I want to get to a point with having these gatherings in our neighborhood where people know where the cups and the serving spoons are in the kitchen. They don’t need to ask where they are or open every drawer. They just know. They don’t have to ask “how can I help clean?” - they do it. And just like learning how to love your partner well, that takes time. Building real friendships takes time. Knowing how to support a friend in just the right way they need it is an ongoing dance of present-moment attunement won over many many moments and in our case many many dinners. I feel really connected to the fact that last night there were many big and small moments of intimacy in this web of friendships we’re catalyzing. Slowly we learn how to love each other in community.

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Love this so much and can’t wait to hear about the gathering!!! Slowly learning how to love each other in community brought tears to my eyes :heart::heart::heart: so happy for you!

@Dahveed loved reading your thoughts and agree with your list (and would add all of Savannahs to mine too…) trying to find a quiet moment to think about anything I would add… :crazy_face::smiling_face:

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Yes, generosity is a great way of putting it, especially with food and cleaning. After Friday night’s dinner I was sad to find the tablecloth missing and assumed someone threw it out while helping clean up. This morning I found it in the exact spot where I store it! (serves me right for not checking the most obvious place). It felt amazing to realize my friends know where things are.

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+1 to initiative and generosity

we are definitely way more likely to invite people back to dinner if they are generous

you can also prompt people to help clean. sometimes people want to be helpful but they feel shy or socially awkward. or sometimes they wouldn’t think to help clean, but if you nudge them you can change their habits. my husband makes a cheesy speech after we finish eating, that’s basically like “please wash your plate and one other item. if we all cleaned up after dinner parties, it would transform nyc and the world” (he’s very theatrical so that works for him, although i think there are simpler speeches you can make depending on your personality)

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