Notes on obstacles to community in a Philadelphia Association ‘community household’
‘We propose,’ said Hugh Crawford, ‘merely not to silence the unspeakable’ .
I lived in one of the Philadelphia Association’s ‘community houses’, the Grove, from October 2010 to March 2013. My aim in writing this article is publicly to raise questions which I found were not welcomed at the Grove, or within the PA more widely, during the time I was living there. Although I have struggled to find the right tone to write in, the reflections that follow should be understood as exploratory and contingent. I hope to bring into view aspects of life in the PA houses which may otherwise remain out of sight.
My suggestion is that life at the Grove might accurately be understood as subject to disciplinary structures, aiming at a form of “treatment”. The desired outcomes of this treatment would be, in order of importance, attendance at house meetings, to not behave in ways which were disturbing to others, and to replicate the accepted “therapeutic” discourse of the house. In this view, the speech and actions of those of us living in the house were influenced, if not outright dictated, by the following structures:
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