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Holding Space

Land Acknowledgment: We acknowledge that this beautiful land that we call our home was forcibly vacated of its original and rightful caretakers, the Iswa (Catawba) and Gadua (Cherokee) people who have cared for it for millennia and, through resilience and persistence, despite generations of state-supported acts of removal and genocide, continue to do so. 

May Potluck

Please join us this Wednesday, May 15th, from 6-9pm at our home at 34 Blue Ridge Avenue, Asheville. Bring a dish, a guest, but please leave pets at home. We welcome neighbors, friends, people interested in or involved with end of life work, and colleagues to come together to share a meal and strengthen connections. Meet new people; expand and deepen your community.

(While there are a few parking spaces right next to the house, please reserve this for people needing to park close. Please do not park on the grass – there are fig trees planted there. There is a Baptist Church on the corner of the next street over, Mitchell Ave, and Haywood Road, that has a large parking lot. The house itself has a ramp that can be used by people who use a wheelchair to get into the main floor of the house, where all activity of the potluck will take place.)

Meet Claire!

Our newest housemate, Claire, moved into the house in late February. Now that we’re all settling into the dynamics and rhythms of an added household member, we’d like to make a formal introduction. The transcript of our introductory interview follows below. To listen to the full 9 minute audio interview instead, click HERE.

Erik: How did you first come to learn about our house?

Claire: Hi everybody! I’m Claire. I learned about the house through Millie, who lives here, who is a friend of mine and also a good friend of my sister’s. I came to a potluck in the fall and it reminded me a lot of previous communal living experiences that I had, just being a part of the energy of this community, and it made me really excited to learn more about the space.

Erik: Can you share a bit about past communal living experiences and your role within them?

Claire: I have lived in a couple of communities of people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities. One was in Wisconsin, which is similar to a Camp Hill Community if anyone is familiar with that. I spent about 2 years there. It was a community that was on a farm and also had a dairy and some other projects. There are multiple family style homes of people that live together. So I participated in that community and provided care within my house and was also just a community member of people that have chosen to live their lives there – some who have lived there for upwards of 25 years. So I was a short-term person that got to participate. I lived also in a similar community right after college in Bogota, Colombia for about a year and that also was people with and without disabilities.We ran a bakery and lived up on a beautiful mountain and had a lot of meals together – it was really nice.

Erik: What are some personal values or principles that guide your interest in communal living and caregiving?

Claire: Something that I’ve learned from disability justice advocates has been the concept of interdependence. So the idea that we are not truly all independent, as society seems to say is the goal in the United States, but rather that we are interdependent. Everyone has needs and strengths and abilities and can support one another, so I think that living in community is a nice way to be able to share skills and then also receive support from others. I specifically enjoy communities that have that goal of providing care because it creates a culture of caring for one another in the space.

Erik: Before choosing to live here in February, there were other communal living options that you were weighing. What drew you to the idea of living in a community where housemates participate in each other’s end-of-life care?

Claire: I think that this kind of community that participates in caring for one another and for people that join the community for even a short period of time has a particular intention to it. A culture around providing your abilities and strengths to other people and then being open to receiving as well and it seemed like a project that I wanted to contribute to. It’s also a new area for me because most of my experience is with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities so I’m looking forward to learning more about hospice and end of life care and grief, and I’m excited to be around people that live here and people that are also part of the broader community that are interested in that topic that I can learn from and hopefully contribute my skills to.

Erik: How do you envision contributing to the support of your fellow housemates in this living arrangement, and what overlaps do you anticipate from your prior communal living experiences?

Claire: What I envision, and what I have mostly seen happening so far, is I really like to cook for people, so I think that’ll be a big part of living here for me. I also love gardening – especially vegetable gardening – and I’ve had a lot of fun already getting to contribute to the lovely gardens here. Also just being a member of the social space I think is important. There’s certainly going to be overlap, of course, I have some experience providing physical care and personal care. But also I think that my experience is that the informal social bubble that is created around a community where people are sharing meals together and building relationships is equally as important as the direct care things one might think of. So I’m excited to be a part of that support for people that may choose to live here for their end of life care – just being a friend, and building relationships, and potentially gardening, or cooking, or even just sharing a meal together. I think that will overlap with my other experiences as well.

Erik: What practices help you to maintain a sense of individuality and autonomy while also being part of a closely-knit community?

Claire: I don’t think that it’s something that I think about very consciously often, but some things that I think fit into things that I do to maintain autonomy or feel like an individual are that I have social relationships outside of the community. I really like to be active, so I love to ride my bike and swim and go on hikes, so that’s a big part of my life that’s not necessarily part of the home because it’s usually outside.  I also work full time outside of the house. Though I am excited to have contributing to the project of Holding Space as a piece of my life in addition to these other pursuits.

Erik: Lastly, what message would you like to share with our community of supporters and subscribers as you embark on this journey with us?

Claire: I’m excited to be here, and I think the message that I would like to relay is that I’ve found this community to be very welcoming. I encourage people to come and get to know us if they haven’t been to a potluck yet. I think that the bubble of community that surrounds Holding Space, in addition to the people that live here – including friends and neighbors and community members – is really strong and adds a lot to what the project is. So by coming and getting to know us, you bring life to what we’re working on. I think that if you haven’t been before, you’ll find that it’s a really fun space to be around, so I look forward to meeting you at some point!

Our Mission

Holding Space was created to improve the quality of life and death for those with a terminal illness and their caregivers by offering support to meet basic needs, connect with community and create meaning.

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