Is Little Flowers Community in Winnipeg a possibility for your life in times like these?

I want to introduce you to my friend Jamie Arpin Ricci and have him share this unusual expression of community he and his friends are creating in Winnipeg Manitoba.  Please give him a careful read and send him your good questions or comments.

“When I tell people about Little Flowers Community it usually takes a few times through before people start to understand.  On one hand, we are a small Mennonite church that gathers together every Sunday evening with a shared meal as the center of our worship.  On the other hand, most of our core members share life together in intentional expressions of co-housing community primarily in the inner city neighbourhood where we meet.  Each expression of these community houses is unique, their members deciding how to share life together.  While in that sense, we are less formal than some new monastic communities, we are significantly shaped by that movement and openly identify with it.

Those community houses represent around 15 people who make up the core of who Little Flowers is.  However, because of our presence in the neighbourhood and our commitment to practice hospitality- be it for couch-surfing backpackers or our hitchhiking homeless friends- our houses are generally far more populated than that.  Most share at least one meal a day together, while others a few times in the week.  There are a few members of our community who live outside of the neighbourhood, participating as they can from that distance.  However, we have found that most end up moving into the neighbourhood to be more actively involved in the day to day lives of the other members.

While many of us do actively participate in ministry with each other- such as serve at a local drop in or helping to run the local inner city kids program- a lot of the “ministry” we do is a natural expression of our presence in the neighbourhood.  Connecting with people next door or at the bus stop is a natural thing for some our people who seem to have a gift when it comes to making new friends.

We have no defined rule when it comes to the economics in our community.  However, share life together in our houses allows us to live for less than it would on our own.  Sharing meals, taking turns at household responsibilities and finding creative ways to collective purchase more responsibly all help- like the time we all bought chicken from the local Hutterite colony or shared a half cow purchased from a farmer.  However, what is most distinctive is the active generosity and shared resourcing that happens.   In other words, we voluntarily share our resources in ways that help everyone live more simply, affordably and responsibly.

One example of how this has helped is Laura, one of our core community leaders.  When Laura first arrived at Little Flowers, she was under crippling debt (due to a shopping addiction) and in a tiny apartment despite her well paying managerial position at a local retail outlet.  Through her commitment to overcome the addiction, in learning to budget and strategize debt reduction and not a little hard work, the community helped Laura get to a much better place.  Two year later find Laura as a home owner, with her debt consolidated into a single low-interest loan with time-orientated strategy to pay it off.  Further, she has been able to leave the world or retail and has recently begun work at a local AIDS hospice while committing to more leadership in the community.

In many ways we are still a very new community and so we are still defining who we are and how we share life in community.  We are humbled and excited to see what God has next for us.”  To read more see Jamie’s book The Cost of Community: Jesus, St Francis and Life in the Kingdom.

Is Little Flowers a Community you could imagine living in for times like these?