Published 30/5/23  11:10amby Pete Richardson


Let’s build a Pagoda

Photo: sabl3t3k

A year or two ago I wrote an article where I argued that too much pressure is put on people to ‘make the most’ of things and it gets in the way of just doing things for fun or relaxation. But I also think ChaCo needs to get good at making the most of things.

I have just returned from holiday. The holiday was great for me and came at the right time. ChaCo had become a place of problems – noisy windows, blocked drains, slow solicitors, broken doors, missing upgrades and so on and so on. While away I managed to forget about the ChaCo jobs that need doing. I then came back and thought WOW – this place is amazing.

But while away I also realised that there is a real danger that we smother ourselves in concerns and end up with things that are only just good enough, and completely and utterly safe enough to try. Things that no one is scared of, but that no one is inspired by.

Here’s a story to illustrate what I am talking about.

A ChaCo member came back from holiday (no it’s not about me!) excited about a Pagoda they saw. Wouldn’t it be brilliant to have one in ChaCo? But there were concerns. Will it block out the light? What colour would it be? Will it match the garden? What if a child climbs it and falls? What if an adult climbs it and falls? What if the whole thing blows over? How much will it costs? How much maintenance will there be?

ChaCo obviously wanted to meet the concerns but also wanted to encourage the member in their excitement. So they did build a pagoda. It was painted white because that matches any colour. It was only 1 meter high so that it wouldn’t block out the light, was safe if anyone fell off it and didn’t need much maintenance.

One of my excitements about ChaCo is that it gives me a chance to be inspired and challenged to take risks. For example, I’ve been able to read some of my short stories. That’s been such a privilege. I just can’t imagine doing that without the supportive community around me in ChaCo. I even tried Yoga, again that’s something I wouldn’t have done if it wasn’t for ChaCo.

But those examples are perhaps the easy stuff, as it’s my choice if I take part. It’s harder when personal concerns and worries are involved with something that affects all of us. That’s when ChaCo will have to work harder.

Imagine a very different Pagoda. This one reaches as high as the roofs. It’s incredibly colourful – so full of colour that it inspires the garden. It creates an amazing shadow silhouette, which those with fair skin appreciate. It has a climbing wall up one side. To make it safe there’s a rope and the first hand holds are deliberately above child height. There’s even stairs inside and a place at the top to launch paper aeroplanes, and it’s a great prop for the ChaCo panto. Ok it was expensive, it does require maintenance but it’s already featured on the front page of the local newspaper and inspired several folks to start their own cohousing groups.

Perhaps when making decisions we should be asking ourselves what is the most inspirational response to this issue – and what’s the best we can do to achieve that? What can we do that is only just acceptable to everyone, and only safe enough to try because we can accept the risk of it not working and us having to try something else?