Back-Up Plan

Name: Ian Morris

Pronouns: He/Him

Period: 1994-1997

What does the Co-op mean to you?
In the summer of 1994, I mentioned to a friend that I needed to find an apartment before classes started in the Fall, but I wasn’t looking forward to the apartment-hunting process. She moved into the Co-op a few months before and suggested I apply to live there. I was hesitant. I grew up in a quiet house without siblings and I worried that living with 20 other people would be hectic. I thought I wouldn’t fit in. I planned to look for an apartment but decided that that The Co-op would be my back-up plan. As the busy Summer came to an end, I hadn’t found an apartment. I decided to move into the Co-op until I could find something better.

But as soon as I arrived at the Co-op, I found everyone was friendly and welcoming. I was surprised how much time I spent talking to people in the kitchen and the TV room. I enjoyed getting to know my fellow co-opers and I was struck by the fact that so many people with different backgrounds were able to get along and keep the house running efficiently. After a few weeks I forgot about my plan to find an apartment.

It may seem strange, but many of my best memories of the Co-op were doing house jobs or working on the building during work weekends. I didn’t mind doing dishes or vacuuming the hallways. During work weekend when we refinished the floors or put up shelving, I enjoyed feeling that I was making the building a better place for everyone.

I also learned a lot from the conflicts and disagreements that occurred while I was at the Co-op. During those years there were arguments between roommates and conflicts with our neighbors on University Avenue. I learned that a critical step in resolving these kinds of conflicts is to help people see the issue through the perspectives of others.

I keep in touch with people I met during my years at the Co-op, and I’ve visited Co-op friends in Minnesota and on both coasts. We still talk about crazy things that happened at the Co-op and the interesting people we lived with.

Although I don’t live in Minneapolis anymore, I’ve been back twice in the last year with my 11-year-old son. Fortunately, we’ve been able to spend a little time at the Co-op helping other co-opers get ready for renovation. It’s been fun to see my son’s enthusiasm as he works on the building I lived in 30 years ago.

I took a lot of important lessons and experiences from the Co-op during my time there. I’m glad I can give something back so that new generations can have the same good experiences.