Peer Advisor: Mosaic Co-Op

Ali Pechman

The two houses that constitute the Mosaic Co-op have it all figured out: environmentally friendly practices, a diverse and high-functioning community, that lovin’ feeling and the most creative party themes. One writer talks to two residents to spread the word on how they pull it off and how you can too.

As the unofficial social coordinator for the Mosaic Co-op, Weinberg junior Kevin Douglas assures the world that it is not, in fact, “a ridiculous flophouse.” Or two flophouses, as there are 13 residents at the Sherman and Foster house (Douglas’ residence) and five living at the Hamlin and Sherman house. Demystifying what he knows others perceive as a hippie enclave, Douglas points out the benefits of living greener and how anyone in the Northwestern community can get involved. In the true spirit of the Co-op, junior Spencer Gartner joined in as well.


Douglas joined the Co-op on somewhat of a whim; he didn’t want to join a frat or live by himself sophomore year but he wanted the freedom of living off campus. “When I moved in, it was really overwhelming because it’s a vastly different experience,” he said. “I didn’t know if I could handle it at first and I was looking for other places to live.” Eventually he adjusted and found that although he didn’t join the Co-op based on his interests or beliefs, his lifestyle changed to fit those of his new environment. “It’s not like I was actively environmentalist freshman year,” he said. “Now I just do these things without even thinking about it and it’s become a way of life for me.” Douglas chose to live in the house again in the fall for his third year there.

SHARING THE LOADDouglas lamented today was his day for chores, groaning about taking out the trash and cooking for the whole house every Sunday. Many residents enjoy the latter task, and the idea of sharing pervades the house’s atmosphere. Accordingly, the community isn’t just Northwestern students: Currently, one resident is from the Czech Republic, and over the summer, residents hailed from Italy, Greece and France.

HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVEDThe Co-op employs many green practices, such as growing its own vegetables at the Hamlin house and composting. Douglas says paper towels constitute a major waste factor, so the Co-op doesn’t use them in either house. Even if you can’t grow your own vegetables where you live, you can still be mindful of your use of disposable products and even participate in the Co-op community: Mosaic offers a meal plan that anyone can join as long as the you cook for the house every other week. On the plan, it is $2.50 per meal and Douglas estimates about seven to eight students used the plan this year.

IT’S NOT A BROTHEL”We like to have fun and I think that’s why we got our reputation,” Gartner said.”But we do like to do themed parties that you don’t normally see at Northwestern.” Some of these have included Superhero and American History. For the birthday of one resident who has lived in the Co-op for six years, first as an undergraduate and now as a graduate student, they threw a special party: “She really missed those wild, crazy days of yore so she wanted to have a lingerie party,” he said. “She lived here back when it really deserved the reputation it has for being a house full of … yeah.”