Throughout my entire first semester at Vassar College, I fervently lamented dorm life, though not for many of the conventional reasons—disputes between my dear roommate and myself simply did not exist; my closet of a room didn’t strike me as all that small; and hey, at least the fluorescent-lit bathrooms provided potable water. Far greater concerns than the aformentioned trifling aspects of living in a dorm, the lack of accessibility to high-quality, organic, ethically sourced food that I could prepare myself, as well as the absence of a supportive community in which no one stole each other’s twenty-one-dollar jars of unopened raw almond butter (yes, people can be that indecent) rendered dorm housing an essentially unbearable living situation in my eyes.
While obsessively researching over the summer the school that would serve as my new home, and before even setting foot on the Vassar campus, I vowed to one day function as a member of the diverse, progressively minded, and socially aware community living in Ferry House—an egalitarian household of 20 students committed to sustainable and environmentally aware cooperative living. The inimitable—and perfectly suited to my personal ethos—aspects of Ferry include sharing a homecooked vegan dinner every weeknight with my 19 fellow Fairies; interacting with individuals who understand the moral drive behind a vegan, vegetarian, and conscious lifestyle on an infinitely more comprehensive level than any other group of students on campus; access to a kitchen fully furnished with cooking equipment, nutritious pantry staples ordered in bulk (can you say a 50-lb bag of shredded coconut?), and a vast array of fresh produce restocked twice every week; and constantly discussing how to lead our lives in the most conscious, considerate, compassionate, and community-oriented way, while making decisions on doing so by group consensus. An excerpt from the Ferry Mission Statement will further convey my ardent determination to live in Ferry:
Because issues of privilege and oppression exist on societal and personal levels, Ferry is not immune. This demands a conscious effort on our part not to perpetuate these forms of social oppression, and may require that we question our views, actions, and everyday language in a way that exposes where we have been privileged, where we have been racist, or sexist, or classist—in a way that allows us to recognize where we have been wrong, unjust, or even oppressive. By continually questioning what is perceived as “normal” or “natural” we choose to play an active role in shaping our experience, rather than resign ourselves to living passively.
Two weeks before returning to Vassar from winter break, I received an email that fulfilled my two foremost wishes of escaping dorm life and moving into Ferry: the folks living in Ferry House had approved my application and I would be living in my version of a utopian community during my second semester of freshman year and beyond. Staring at my computer screen for literally three minutes before regaining my senses, I nearly floated around my house for the several days prior to spring semester. Now, after living in Ferry for a full week, the house has met and far exceeded every one of my expectations—good food, good company, good discussions, and good ethics, to say the very least. I have never felt more at home or a greater sense of belonging than I have over the past seven days in my new community.
Every night, two Fairies—who rotate on a nightly basis—craft a hearty, scrumptious, and completely vegan meal for the entire house. Tonight’s meal comprised of a Thai-inspired stir-fry of broccoli, snow peas, carrots, summer squash, bell peppers, home-cooked chickpeas, lots of spices, and a dash of tahini garnished with cilantro, scallions, sesame seeds, and toasted coconut, accompanied by brown rice.
Meal Checklist: Protein—chickpeas, tahini, sesame seeds. Whole Grain—brown rice. Vegetables—snow peas, carrots, summer squash, bell peppers. Leafy Green—broccoli.
Enjoying a delightful meal among supportive, insightful, unique, driven, and inspiring individuals all harboring a penchant to positively and profoundly impact society proves an unrivaled experience every single time I sit down at the enormous communal dinner table. I can’t imagine living anywhere more suited to a conscious lifestyle than in Ferry and hope to do so for the rest of my days at Vassar.
Until next time, Ali.