This morning, The Atlantic featured an article entitled, “Dorms for Grownups: A Solution for Lonely Millennials?” The article describes a concept called co-living, which provides individuals with a small personal apartment, while actively cultivating the community experience at the same time.
Creator Troy Evans explains how this new type of living works:
“Commonspace, as he’s calling it, will feature 21 microunits, which each pack a tiny kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and living space into 300-square-feet. The microunits surround shared common areas including a chef’s kitchen, a game room, and a TV room. Worried about the complicated social dynamics of so many Millennials in one living unit? Fear not, Evans and partner John Talarico are hiring a ‘social engineer’ who will facilitate group events and maintain harmony among roommates.
Forget communes or co-ops. Millennials, Evans says, want the chance to be alone in their own bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens, but they also want to be social and never lonely (hence #FOMO).
‘We’re trying to combine an affordable apartment with this community style of living, rather than living by yourself in a one-bedroom in the suburbs,’ Evans, who is 35, told me.”
Evans continues his description of the plan (architectural design below):
“‘We’re trying to make it a neighborhood in a building,’ he said. ‘You’re not staying in your room watching TV all day, you’re eating in the restaurants, going to the coffee shops and the bars, and doing it as a group.’”
Such a plan once again underscores the desire and need for community which millennials increasingly express. But while millennials long for community, they can’t seem to create it, relying on “social engineers” rather than their own ingenuity to facilitate their gatherings.
Sadly, as Alexis de Tocqueville reminds us, this was not always the case in America:
“Americans of all ages, all conditions, and all dispositions constantly form associations. They have not only commercial and manufacturing companies, in which all take part, but associations of a thousand other kinds, religious, moral, serious, futile, general or restricted, enormous or diminutive. The Americans make associations to give entertainments, to found seminaries, to build inns, to construct churches, to diffuse books, to send missionaries to the antipodes; in this manner they found hospitals, prisons, and schools. If it is proposed to inculcate some truth or to foster some feeling by the encouragement of a great example, they form a society. Wherever at the head of some new undertaking you see the government in France, or a man of rank in England, in the United States you will be sure to find an association.” – Alexis de Tocqueville, 1840
Image Credit: U inn Berlin Hostel
Annie Holmquist is editor of Intellectual Takeout, an online magazine and sister publication of Chronicles.