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Life at Laramie

Laura and Andrew Hazard live and work at Laramie House, a Shared Living Arrangement (SLA) designed to empower consumers beyond the traditional 24-hour CILA model.

Living in an SLA is more than a job: it's a lifestyle. To live in an SLA, one has to actively create a community and live one's life within that community. There are times when this feels like a job, but there are other times that this feels just like my home and my people.

My husband and I have lived at Laramie House for over a year now. With the consumers who live here, we have celebrated holidays with our families and made new traditions we hope to continue. In many ways living here is very ordinary: we get up, get the consumers ready for workshop, and go about our days. When they come home, it is like any CILA-we take walks, make dinner, go on outings, make crafts and watch movies.

But there are extraordinary moments too, as we have melded my long held dinner parties with life at Laramie House so the consumers have met new friends and learned a great deal about planning a party and being fantastic hostesses. I have watched the consumers here blossom and become comfortable with new people. At the first family barbeque I brought them to, one consumer refused to talk to anyone. Recently, this consumer purchased a birthday card for my father with her own money since she has grown to know and care about a new family. What the consumers need comes first for us, but we have been able to include them in our family parties and the outings we enjoy. We have expanded their horizons and they have challenged us and expanded our world too.

Living in an SLA is not easy. It requires a deep commitment to the people, the philosophy of Search, the philosophy of people-first programming, and a deep trust in yourself that you will find solutions. Like any long term relationship, this job needs tending to grow. Growth is not always comfortable, but the challenges that living at Laramie House has given us have made us stronger people and better staff. We look forward to the next year of living here and discovering new abilities in the consumers and ourselves.

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