Ask Jenn Vicious: Putting Down Roots and Community Building

By: Jenn Vicious


Jenn Vicious is the radical community’s Agony Aunt, providing life coaching and social etiquette answers for radical cultures.  Need poly, kinky, or queer dating advice, need to to know what to wear to court or a family function (you know, one you have to look “respectable” at),  want to understand what to and not to say in some contexts, ask Jenn Vicious.

When making life goals, how do you narrow the options to those most healthy, exciting and realistic? I am having a hard time choosing a space to put down roots and make home? How can I cure the feeling of restlessness in such a transient and wide-spread community? What can we do when we miss everyone always

So many good questions, anon. There are so many possibilities for our lives that sometimes it is hard to imagine which goals to pursue. It is hard to balance our decisions now with a future we want to have.
I know a lot of people who struggle to balance taking flight and growing roots. You probably aren’t going to find the things that signal a place to make home while being transient.

This isn’t to say that I think there’s anything wrong with the traveling lifestyle. I think it works well for some, that you can have meaningful and lasting relationships without being stationary, and that there are a lot of benefits to being a wandering adventurer. And I think that some of those people, especially those who communicate well, are good houseguests, and contribute responsibly to the communities they pass through, serve as an important thread for radical communities.

But, I also know a lot of people who are wandering because they are looking for something, and when they find it, they’ll settle down. They think that they will find it in the next town, and I think that they are mistaken. Community is not going to be sitting somewhere, waiting for you to show up and join in. There is no perfect community out there, people are always going to disappoint you, and building the long-lasting ties you want is always going to take a great amount of effort. Community is an on-going project, and you have to be there in order for it to happen.

My best advice is pick somewhere to be and then be there. Work on creating the kind of community you want to be a part of. Hopefully, you’ll find other people who want to work on that, too. Then do it. Be there for each other, even when things aren’t perfect. Stand up for each other. Respect each other. Create shared resources, networks of support. Think about ways to make your community long-lasting. Think about what you are going to do as members of your community age, have children, get sick. Deal with problems that arise.

As for missing everyone, always: I feel constantly lucky to know so many amazing people in so many amazing places. I feel lucky to hear about the struggles of different communities, of what they are going through and how they are dealing with their issues. And, though I would argue that technological civilization has a lot of drawbacks, we also have more opportunities to stay in touch with people across the country and across the globe than humans have ever had before. Write emails, write letters, send pictures to your friends. Make roots somewhere so that your friends will have a place to come and visit; travel and go and visit the places they are making. Share ideas, experiences, resources.

Still having a hard time deciding? Don’t worry. Sometimes we over think our decisions. There’s no way of knowing the outcome of every decision you make. Just make one and feel good about it. Enjoy what you’re doing, and don’t second guess the decision too much.


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