For many on the University of Michigan campus, cooperative housing can be a great solution to a competitive, complicated, expensive housing process. With the prices of high-rise apartments soaring, and with houses often managed by negligent landlords or just completely falling apart, many students are turning to co-ops. Jointly operated by its members and coordinated by the Inter-Cooperative Council at Ann Arbor, co-ops offer affordable off-campus housing with the benefits of an established community. Residents share chores, cook meals together, throw parties, and form lasting friendships.
And they have art fairs! Last Sunday’s art fair at Vail and MichMinnies, two popular co-ops on campus, was a showcase in handmade, creative artistic styles. There was pottery, cyanotypes, prints, sketches, second-hand clothes, collages, and so much more. Personally, I had my eye set on a laminated collage of a couple of meerkats set against a backdrop of a field of flowers. I also picked up a laser-thin wood-pressed print, which the artist had sketched over in black pen. They were both incredible works of art that I got at a significantly lower price than I would have at a regular store. Plus, much of the profit will be donated to local charities.
Walking through the different booths, you really felt the full effect of what it means for something to be “student run.” Everyone at the University of Michigan has the chance to go to many student run events – ranging from improv to comedy to performances to art galleries – but it’s especially exciting when those student run events bleed into the outside world. There has been a major political push in the past few years to absolve apartment residents of the burden negligent or even criminal landlords can place on them. Cooperative housing members own a share of the actual organization that owns the property, meaning that every single resident owns a part of that house. It’s an elegant solution to a housing market in crisis.
I highly recommend checking out the next co-op art fair. It’s a great chance to pick up some local art, support your fellow peers, and take a look at some alternative housing options.