Thursday, August 31, 2006

The good people of Ant-Hill

[Ant Hill is not only a communal living environment for its residents, but a focal point of the community]

I now have a bicycle, a really cool, "blazing-blue trail bike" that was put together by Jimmy, one of the guys around the corner at the "housing co-op" called Ant-Hill Cooperative. They do stuff like that at Ant-Hill, repair and then give away bikes to anyone that they think needs one.

On their website it says, "Ant Hill Cooperative is a housing co-op in Rochester, New York. Ant Hill is not only a communal living environment for its residents, but a focal point of the community. Along with our friends at the EcoHouse (an environmentally-themed house up the street), Ant Hill is dedicated to a new type of community in Rochester, based on better lives by working together."

The Ants, as I affectionately call them, have a make-shift bike shop setup in their basement. They also provide drop-in co-op meals for $3 each, just give them a 48 hour heads-up and "drop-in" for dinner. If you help out with the dishes or the cooking, it's only $2.50. I asked what I could do for them in return for giving me the bike, so I'm going to be helping out with their house repairs for ten hours. Much thanks also to my landlord, Dave, who set the whole bike deal up.

My landlord, who is just too cool to be a landlord, was over yesterday to adjust the locks on my door and the room I share a bathroom with on the opposite side. Another person has now moved into our upstairs apartment with us, making for a total of three. His name is Nicola, he's a Serbian student and an all-around amateur athlete that transferred to UR from a Midwest college—mostly he says, because he's "used to a big city," Belgrade, and that other town, as my BVS friend Meredith so aptly likes to say, "didn't have more than three stoplights in it." I have been talking with him about sports and politics, he seems like a solid guy and we have had lots to chat about. He also brought up the fact that attending this new school will do much more for his career.

I've been told by several people here that the University of Rochester is quite a prestigious, private school. "It is noted for the Eastman School of Music (1918), the Memorial Art Gallery, its schools of dentistry and medicine (with Strong Memorial Hospital), and its library with outstanding collections in history, music, and medicine. The university maintains the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies and sponsors government internships in both the U.S. Congress and the British Parliament," say Answers.com.

I do miss the food our "food groupies" use to make for us in New Windsor, though; I only get $5 a day for food money and things aren't any cheaper here in Rochester than in California. Meals at the university are around $11 each with the 170 Club Plan (package deal) UR sells for an up-front price of $1,893—that's good only for the semester (no refunds on unused meal tickets), so that's out. You can eat all your meals at Ant-Hill for around $5/day, although you have to "be there for all the meals" and I can't. My office is a mile away from the co-op and, anyway, AHEAD's staff eats lunch together so we can have our daily business meeting at the same time.

Oh, bye the way, some of my friends couldn't remember where it was that I might be going next and came up with Monterey. I suppose Mozambique is similar in geography, being that it "has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world," my boss once said to me.

But then again, my boss might have been just telling me that over the phone to lure me here to Rochester.

Reporting from the underground...

Stan Morris