Living in community: the challenges of materialism

Olivia Barth

Olivia Barth 1978 –

Born in Surrey, England, Olivia came to the Bruderhof as a nine-year-old with her parents and younger brother. Now a mother of four sons, she is an account manager for Community Playthings:

Ironically enough, living in community doesn’t necessarily make you less materialistic. I still have this tendency to hang on to certain things for myself. I’m a big fan of my public library, and if I want a new book I get the library to order it. But then, there are some books I can hardly bear to return. Or – this is a silly example, but it’s true: because I can’t go and buy the one perfect bag, I find myself collecting second-rate bags! 

I’ve read blogs about minimalism and find it very appealing. But minimalism isn’t necessarily the opposite of materialism. I would like to have a very bare house with a couple of things placed artistically here and there, but my family loves to read and so I think it’s important to have books on every surface of the house, and then there are the school projects and half-made Lego creations as well. And I welcome that because ultimately I want my house to be a friendly, hospitable place, not a work of art.

Early morning sun on the linden tree at the center of Darvell community

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