Why I Moved In, Part 5

“The person who loves their own dream of community (even if intentions are ever so earnest) will destroy it, but the person who loves those around them will create community.”

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

It’s hard for me to think back with clarity to a time when I was not utterly enmeshed in Atangard. For me, Atangard Community Project began long before we moved into 33790 Essendene Ave. My energy and thoughts started funneling towards community when I moved out here from Saskatchewan over 3 years ago. A group of people interesting in living in and working towards creating a community living space was one of the reasons I made the trek to BC.

After high school, as you may have read below, I went to a Capernwray school in Greece and was lucky enough to landed a beautiful roommate named Tessa Marie Suderman. She taught me a lot – about God, about friendship and about myself. She also showed me how to look at myself in a way I never had before. You see, by the time I got to Greece, although I may not have looked it on the outside, I was in pretty rough shape. I had spent the previous three weeks alternating between depression and elation and arguing with my family while travelling through Europe. Before that had been a year of tremendous lows, screaming, unusual behavior, tears and finally – seeking help and opening up to my parents about what was going inside of me and how scared and confused I really was. To tell the truth, that year is a little hazy. Like many bad months or episodes since – it is closer to a bad dream than a real experience.

To be a little dramatic, Greece was really the beginning of new life and although it took me several years to find my way back to Tess after Greece and really, here, to the start my life – that was where it all began. Let me explain what I mean.

My time in Greece gave me a love for and an interest in community that I never had previously, because I had never experienced it. After leaving, although I did another brief stint in Austria at a bible school in a community setting (equally good), I continued to battle ups and downs and was diagnosed as bipolar. I was on and off different medications, struggling to grow up and figure out how to live on my own, and mostly did not do this very well. I did this in Winnipeg, Manitoba as I was attending design school at Red River College. The support system that I was blessed with there was amazing, but it wasn’t enough. Or maybe it was me that wasn’t healthy enough, mentally or physically, to reach for or create a community like the one I dreamed of.

After all of that, design school behind me and blank slate before me, I did what I always did, moved to a new place. This time, Abbotsford, BC. What happened next however, was unusual – I stayed. And this staying has brought me a community that has enabled me to live life in a way I did not dare hope I could. Pharmaceutical med free, healthy and happy.

My dream was a community that worked, slept, ate, cried, laughed – LIVED together. That is what I was reaching for when I stuffed a lot of junk in a U-haul. Since then, my dream has been complicated by the complications of living in and trying to be a leader in an actual community. And as I try to do that leading, along with four other directors, sometimes we make mistakes. I worry that decisions we make, even with the most earnest of intentions (which I do not worry about, we are very earnest), will destroy our community. I am reminded, wisely, by others that this place is remarkably strong and resilient. That strength is something I draw from more than I realize, except when I take time to reflect and realize how much this place and these people have given me.


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