Architecture & Real Estate | June 1, 2019 10:34 am

Millennials Find Unlikely Roommates: Nuns

Urban convents are partnering with young progressives to abate housing costs

Convent and chapel
grassrootsgroundswell/Creative Commons

The premise sounds like something from a sitcom: a group of millennials finds housing in the most unexpected of places — staying with a bunch of nuns. But this isn’t a new show airing on Thursdays on NBC; instead, it’s the premise of a new program that started out in the Bay Area and may spread across the United States.

A New York Times article details the impetus behind this unlikely team-up.

They called the project Nuns and Nones, and they were the “nones” — progressive millennials, none of whom were practicing Catholics. Intended to be a pilot project, the unusual roommate situation with the Sisters of Mercy would last for six months.

The two groups quickly found common ground, and were able to civilly discuss certain sociopolitical areas in which they disagreed. As the article points out, advantages exist for both groups in this arrangement, from the real estate ramifications of it to the multigenerational element of activism found there.

This particular blend of religious and secular cultures has echoes of some earlier interactions between secular and sacred spaces. Legendary travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor’s 1953 book A Time to Keep Silence chronicled the time he spent writing and meditating in various European monasteries. A 2011 NPR essay by Adam Haslett revisited Fermor’s book and praised its ability to convey some of the serenity of its author’s experiences. “The music of the words themselves sing us into a different world,” Haslett wrote.

The New York Times article mentions that “Nuns and Nones is now running groups in about a dozen cities, including Grand Rapids, Mich., Minneapolis, New York City and Boston.” The cohabitation project in California was the first of its kind; hopefully it won’t be the last.

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