What thoughts come to mind when you hear the word “compound?” If you are like me you first think of a tow-truck, but that’s impound, not compound (a common mistake). After that you probably think of fractions, interest or Branch Davidians. And that is precisely the problem.
Compounds have been getting a lot of bad press for a while now, but it shouldn’t be so. Other than the compound bow (sometimes tipped with dynamite by the likes of Bo and Luke Duke) there are many positive uses for the classic compound. My personal favorite is the family compound. While the family compound has never completely fallen out of use, it has gone through some rough times post WWII.
I blame the suburb. So sparkly and tempting was the suburb of the 1950’s all the way through the 1990’s that it lured many a innocent young’un away from the nourishing life of the compound. You may ask why, dear frustrated blogger, should I abandon my fancy pants suburb due to your maudlin affair with the compound? Well, thanks for asking. (But why don’t you hold the sarcasm next time?)
The suburb fails to stand up to the compound in almost every way. Family compounds are built around a love and commitment to each other despite raging differences, dislikes and disagreements. Suburbs are built around shared socio-economic status as well as tastes in politics and landscaping.
Family compounds generally serve to compound the wealth of those who live in them by cutting down on repetition and the costs associated with transitioning property in a competitive market. Suburbs generally serve to drive up real estate speculation and home equity loans for renovation meaning wealth for some and foreclosure for others.
Last, but not least, compounds encourage community while suburbs encourage competition. Don’t get me wrong, I love competition (especially when it involves anyone beating the Texas Longhorns). But I feel like as a culture we have strayed too far from the experience of being cared for, and caring for, those who drive us crazy. This is, after all, the definition of community.
Now, following my sometimes irrational exuberance I feel responsible to utter a single word of caution. I should stress that I am in favor of non-cult compounds only. Don’t kid yourself. If you gather within your compound more than once a week to burn anything other than wood, to roast anything other than weenies, or to sing anything other than kumbaya, you’re probably a cult. But on the bright side, I hear there is some cheep property for sale in Colorado City.