That is, instead of a church. Or a private practice of some
This isn’t the first time I’m writing publicly about this idea. I first did in September 2015, in the post Building a Community.
The reason I’m writing about this again is that I want to begin to act on it in the near future, and I’ve somewhat refined the idea in the last year.
I said the personal growth house would be one of those things I’d do “someday”—perhaps years or even decades away. Yet, I’ve now decided that I want this to happen sooner rather than later—and I’m surprising myself with just how soon. Of course, I do that with many projects—like when I said it would be years before I wrote another full-length book…
The basic concept is that this is a place where people go to converse consciously. There’s no need to avoid “rocking the boat.” There’s no need to hold yourself back for the sake of being socially conventional. No topics are taboo. There’s no fear or hatred here. All B.S. can stay outside.
People can come in to get support for their personal lives. They can talk through challenges they’re having, gain clarity on what they really believe and desire, and receive moral support.
People can also come to the house to meet other people, share ideas they have, and even just to help others who came to the house seeking some form of help.
I’d like to think that people who would make good friends, collaborators on a project, and/or who can otherwise help each other would be likely to find one another at a place like this. I imagine that a great many ideas would be exchanged here, along with some powerful energy. The potential for people to learn from each other would be enormous in a place where the atmosphere is friendly, curious, fearless, forward-thinking, uplifting, and giving.
What excites me is the premise of creating a place with a high vibe—a place that feels great to walk into and is welcoming. This is the opposite of a place that feels stifling, limiting, or like a trap to be in.
I’d love to hold the space for other people to grow and to be themselves authentically. Why not create a literal space in which to do that?
Another important aspect of creating such a place is that people can come in whenever they want. This is opposed to a group or a private practice, in which people meet only at scheduled times. I see promise in the comparative freedom of having a personal growth house. If nothing else, it’s different.
What I basically have in mind at this point is a downsized version of the original idea I proposed. No lodging, food, float tank, bookstore/library, yoga, or employees or other workers of any sort. That’s way more baggage than is needed to get started.
What I keep imagining is a small space with three rooms. One room is quite small—just big enough for two people to talk comfortably. The other two rooms are much larger, and can comfortably hold at least 15 people each. I suppose another room to serve as the bathroom would be nice too, but maybe we can all learn to pee outside. At least it’s a growth experience (for some of us, anyway). :)
The room you step into when you first walk in is the main room. Anyone is welcome to freely go in and out of this room and to gather there. That’s where most of the activity in the house would take place—where people could meet and talk to one another. This would likely be the biggest of the three rooms.
The other large room would be for more organized gatherings, such as discussion groups, classes, presentations, or meetings among multiple people. I’d want to enable people to use the room simply by asking me and reserving a time (or just going straight in there, if it’s presently free). I would hold events of my own in there as well.
Finally, the small room would be a private room. This is where people could go to have one-on-one conversations, away from the chaos of the rest of the house. In general people would only be in there if they are there with me, but perhaps I’d permit pairs of people to go in there without me if I had other things going on.
When I refer to a “large” room, I’m using the term relative to the small room. I’m definitely not talking about something auditorium-sized. I think something close to a decent sized living room would be minimally sufficient for the meeting room, and roughly two of those living rooms would be a good size for the main room.
There is an already-existent place I know of that would roughly fit the specs of the place that I’m trying to create. It’d be helpful to get information on the size of the place, so I could have numbers (i.e. in square feet) to use.
It’d be nice to have food that is available to everyone. However, I don’t want the food to become a distraction to the real point of the house. Maybe I’ll just keep some fruit around to share, but that would probably be the extent of it.
I’d like to keep books around, too, so if someone walks in and I’m busy with someone else, that person has something to do until I become available again or another person walks in. I would accept book donations, but I’d only take books that are relevant to personal growth. I would likely review all the book donations myself, though if they got out of hand I might have to find another way.
There are some other ideas I could share about the house, though at this point they would mostly be details that aren’t worth addressing just yet—not publicly, anyway. It’d create more chaos than clarity. In particular, I have a few ideas about how I could keep the place running when I’m not there—or, whether I would bother to do that at all. But I won’t go into it just yet.
Another challenge is the uncertainty of it all. Because such an operation requires the participation of other people, quite a lot can happen that is beyond what I intended to happen. I could get overrun by teenagers looking for a place to hang out, or other people who perhaps don’t care about personal growth and want to crash the party. Then again, it’s not like people walk into churches just to make fun of priests, nor do you see large swaths of children causing a ruckus in libraries and grocery stores because they’re bored (OK, that happens sometimes, but I don’t see it too much). Overall I can’t say I’m concerned about the uncertainty aspect, though it’s something I’ll have to continually acknowledge.
Additionally, I don’t think I could stomach opening five days a week every week for 8 hours until the end of time. I don’t know how effective I could make this model, but ideally I’d just open whenever I felt like being there. I imagine that some days I’d do afternoons, other days I’d do nights, still other days (or even weeks) not at all. Perhaps it’d help if I could live in another part of the building, but I think it would drive me nuts to spend that much time in a single place. The best solution would probably be to find a way to open even when I’m not there. Again, I won’t go into that just yet.
Similarly, I have to think about the long-term implications. Would I try this out just for a few months? Would I make this my main pursuit for one or more years? When I’m done would I delegate all the work to others, or would I just shut down? Of course, I’m not going to let a lack of answers to those questions keep me from getting started.
Other than that, the main hang-up I have is where I would put this place. Shall I stay in my hometown, or will I travel to greener pastures? I’m not so sure that something like this would be well-received where I live. However, it’s not like I expect everyone and their grandma to show up anyway—and certainly not in a space that’s relatively small.
My guess at this moment is that I’m going to try setting up this gig somewhere in the Utica-Rome area. If nothing else, I don’t imagine I’d face much competition. Then again, it would be nice to leave. But we shall see.
That’s where I’m at with this whole thing right now. We shall see.
More will follow in the near future. Stay tuned.
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