Despite the charged atmosphere of hate and fear sending shock waves across the globe, humanity is managing -- as it always has -- to find new ways to come together.
People are uniting in the unconventional realms of eating, working, and living, often referred to as “co-life”. Whether you’re familiar with the idea or not, you’ve probably already taken part in the movement.
What is the “co-life”? It’s the growing culture of collaboration, part of the evolving sharing economy.
The oldest example is the co-op. As defined by the International co-operative alliance, “A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.”
The idea of the co-operative came out of the industrial revolution, when workers rights couldn’t keep up with the booming nature of industry. In response, the Rochdale Pioneers of Lancashire, England, founded the modern Co-operative Movement in 1944, “to provide an affordable alternative to poor-quality and adulterated food and provisions, using any surplus to benefit the community.”
Today, this idea can take the form of a dining co-op, where members make and share food, a community of people living together, or a more formal business venture.
Another step on the stairway to the “co-life” was added with the concept of coworking in 2005. Coworking strives to bring people together, promoting the idea that working in a shared space can help freelancers, remote workers, and independent business people share more than air and coffee, but ideas, energy, and networks.
Usher in the newest addition to the “co-life”: coliving. If you’re still missing the dorm-atmosphere of college, then you can join a coliving facility, such as WeLive Apartments, recently launched by WeWork as a shared living space. You can share a WeLive flat with new, potential friends while reaping the included perks of beer, cleaning staff and yoga. Coliving falls into a similar category of Airbnb, another idea that champions people sharing the same space, though for shorter periods.
Now to tease out the question pricking at everyone’s mind: why is the “co-life” booming today?
Technology certainly helps as it allows people to connect with each other more easily, setting up independent institutions like Airbnb. Then, there’s the push to save money by working or lodging through cheaper alternatives. Finally, there’s the human trait of not wanting to be alone. People grow, pivot, and thrive off each other, and what better way to do it than in coworking or co-op spaces?
Furthermore, people are straying away from conventional lifestyles of the past. Modern day workers would rather get flexjobs that allow them to travel while travelers would rather support and learn from local Airbnb connoisseurs than wash their money away into big hotel corporations. And through it all, over the fear and hatred of others, is the desire to come together, to support, befriend, and to understand.