Earlier this year as the snow was still falling, Jamie and I met for long hours to hash out the original concept for the The Dupont. Over coffee, we often spent significant time on one particular question: Where would the Dupont sit on the spectrum of coliving houses? Would it be a commune-inspired space in the heart of the city -- where the doors were always open and the fridge was always full, no matter how much individuals had to contribute? Or would the Dupont be at the forefront of a movement seeking to professionalize shared living? A space that charged by the meal, networking event, and room?
As winter became spring, we decided we wanted to try to create something in the middle. We envisioned a space that was welcoming of all sorts of people -- folks who wanted to attend a storytelling, potluck or open mic event in the evening -- as well as a space that would welcome new friends into the Dupont during a stopover in Toronto; a home with clean sheets, food in the fridge and a reasonable price tag attached to the experience. In short, we wanted to create an environment that regularly welcomed new faces into the Dupont, while simultaneously creating an hospitable and dynamic home for our long-term residents.
While we’re still working out the kinks, it’s pretty exciting to see this place turning into exactly what we were hoping for.
Just two short months in, we’ve hosted the following events at the Dupont:
- Serentypical Home, a storytelling event hosted by Dupont friend, Asad Chishti
- A dinner and gathering of Social Innovation Fellowship programs, including folks from the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSEO), OCAD’s Strategic Foresight Program, Waterloo’s Social Innovation Masters, and from St. Paul’s Greenhouse
- Birthday parties for two of the house’s residents, one of which involved a midnight wakeup with sparklers and apple crisp; and the other, involving a late dance party / open mic
- “May the Porch be with you” an event hosted on our porch, inviting neighbors and passersby to stop for food, chalking and conversation as just one of over 100 civic interventions that occurred during the 100in1day celebration
- Countless house dinners, hosted in a daily rotating fashion by our long-term residents
- Regular meetings of the Studio Y community and other groups we're involved with, like Lead2Peace and Youth Social Infrastructure
- And finally, tomorrow evening, we’re looking forward to hosting the first community gathering for an online class called Skills for Solidarity that seeks to open up a conversation about the shared history between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples in Canada. (Initially, this had been conceived of as a small gathering of housemates, working on the course together; and has now expanded to include folks from a variety of different communities -- social innovation, Not-For-Profit and political policy to name a few.
Since we began making this home our own, we’ve also been fortunate to have hosted our first paying visitors in the space. Over the past couple of months, we’ve welcomed in a couple of new friends who are connected to the Social Finance community internationally, as well as a few travellers from Germany, (who one of our roommates met while getting ice cream in Cuba one week prior)! Moreover, we’ve been fortunate to have met a whole whack of new folks, each member of the housing drawing from their individual communities to bring people together over meals in the evenings, or hangouts on lazy summer afternoons.
Lest I leave the impression that coliving is all kumbaya and campfires, here are a few of the things we’re still working on sorting out:
- How do we create a meal plan that satisfies six different long-term guests, each with different dietary requirements and preferences?
- How might we connect to different sorts of communities, sharing the message that the Dupont is ready and keen on hosting short-term guests?
- How might we throw the most kickass house warming BBQ Dupont St has ever seen?
If you might be able to help us out with any of the aforementioned three, feel free to drop myself or Jamie a line. We’d love to hear from you, host you, have you over for an event, or swap coliving stories.
PS. If you’d like more information on different forms of coliving, mentioned earlier, take a look at this great piece by our friends at Open Door. It gives a great breakdown on the differences between communes, co-ops, co-housing, etc.