Help us imagine what community can do

by Teju Ravilochan

2 min readMay 1, 2024

As Seneca elder Terry Cross writes, “Culture is one group or people’s preferred way of meeting its needs.”

We live in a culture where our preferred way of meeting our needs is through money. But for so many people, like the residents of Brownsville, Brooklyn with whom we work, the likelihood of meeting some of the most foundational needs through money is low.

Take child care. Child care costs the average working-class New York family at least $2,000 per month or $24,000 per year (Source: NYT). That’s unaffordable for Brownsville residents, whose average household income around age 35 is $28,000 per year (Source: Opportunity Atlas).

At GatherFor, we believe that “in community, we have everything we need.” So we’re exploring how we can use community as a preferred way of meeting our needs, sometimes even instead of money.

And fortunately, we’ve heard of remarkable community-based approaches to addressing unaffordable child care like babysitting co-ops. In these co-ops, small groups of parents, who trust one another, rotate watching each other’s kids for free. Our partner Carefully even has an app that helps parents figure out the logistics. Carefully founder Leslie Borrell, who started the organization because she needed support with child care as a single mom, told me that it’s also important for parents to align around core values:

Some of the questions parents forming these co-ops need to ask themselves include: What do you do when a child acts out? What kind of food do we feed our kids? Do any of us have guns in our homes and what do we want to do about it? It’s ultimately not about judging one another’s choices, but working toward alignment if we’re going to share responsibility for our children.

People like Leslie help us remember we used to do things like child care together in much larger communities, as David MacIver speaks to beautifully in the tweet below.

Source: I encountered this tweet in an Adaway Group workshop on friendship.

To cultivate the imagination of our community, we’re looking for community-based approaches to addressing the needs of:

  • housing (like communities throwing rent parties or families moving in together to share rent),
  • mental health (like peer therapy circles),
  • entrepreneurship (like susus, which our community members practice to help one another secure funding to start businesses)
  • child care (like described above).

If you are practicing anything like the above, please reach out (email me at We would love to hear how you’re going about it and learn from you, as we endeavor to learn how true it is that in community, we have everything we need.




We believe: in community, we have everything we need. Our aim: self-sufficient neighborhoods. We organize: "Neighbor Teams" that support each other like family.