Occasional Update #9

Well, we finally taught Burglar to catch rats:

After clearing out and occupying the rest of this house, we’ve continued to re-arrange our main living areas to accommodate the new layout. We’ve nearly transformed the kitchen with a few key effects –


The sink’s backsplash is made from broken pieces of slate from our very own roof(!). Slate has become Mattie’s new material obsession—ever since he and Alex learned to repair some of the missing/broken slates on our (very high, very old) roof.

A slate roof looks like a book before it is bound. All of the pages

are written by a collaborative effort of weather and time. Hold one slate

in your hands. It is smooth and in places crinkled like handmade paper.

You can’t see yourself in the surface, it has lasted and will last much longer.

—from The Slate Roof Poem, by Philip Terman.

Things Change

This summer we experienced our first major internal conflict—a long-term romantic relationship came to a close, and we lost a house-mate in the fallout.  The process was hard on all of us, but we are taking steps toward reconciliation and spending time regularly with the house mate we lost. We’ve learned the importance of being forward with- and open to all of our house mates (even if they seem ok) because we can’t support each other if we don’t know that support is needed, and how important is is that support comes from all directions in a community.

The neighborhood is also in a state of change (or as some would call it, “Development”). Long term renters, including our close friends, are being forced from their homes to make way for wealthier student populations. Since its inception, the Midden has involved itself in neighborhood planning and development coalitions. We’ve been happy to offer otherwise-absent critiques of both capitalist developers and the misguided do-gooders that seem to thrive in our neighborhood. But faced with a property-owner’s whim to suddenly, and legally, evict our friends, we’re struggling to find ways to respond in a fashion that is effective for our friends. Watching how quickly our street is losing its racial, economic, and generational diversity feels crippling sometimes, but we do the best we can to support each other in the face of forces that we can’t control.


After a period of job-free creativity here in town, Kate is now on tour with the Beehive Design Collective giving presentations about the coal industry in Appalachia. Weslie started a job at a local co-op and now brings home lots of cheese and delicious gluten-free cookies. And Neb is about to release an album! I think!

Redbird Prison Abolition hosted the 2nd annual Prisoner Art Show to benefit Ohio prisoners. And if you happen to feel nostalgic for the days of pen pals, you should email them to inquire about writing letters to prisoners.

Cole left her job at a nonprofit back in August and has been working with Alex on a graphic novella. Mattie is currently helping facilitate a series of community dialogues in the neighborhood, and is preparing for a trip west this January!


At the beginning of October, we went out into the woods with the coyotes and spent two nights’ days “re-visioning” or “revision-ing” or just “revising” our guiding principles. Ben Bennett showed us plant families on a plant walk and we showed each other pictures of our younger selves.

Much of the trust in our house is founded in shared politics, but sharing similar critiques of the current social order and navigating the complexities of our daily lives are two different things. The good news is that we’re in the process of editing a brand new document that defines what we’re about and accounts for all of the voices that currently dwell in our home.


2 thoughts on “Occasional Update #9

  1. Ella

    Sounds like you are evolving into a better place. What is the age range of people in your house? How long have you all been together communally? I am part of the Columbus Area Communal living Meet-up and am very interested in hearing more about your experiences in communal living.

    1. katepleuss

      The age range is from about 23 to late 20s, early 30s. There are 7 of us now and the project has been running (at 377 Chittenden Ave.) for over 2 years. Give a call at 614 725 4333 or stop over and chat if you like.


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