Waco’s Good Neighbor House is a century-old building was bought by Baylor University education professor, Dr. Laine Scales, in 2011 and opened in November 2016 with a vision to host the social, spiritual and educational activities.
The house has hosted community meetings for girl scout troupes, 12-step programs, Tai Chi lessons, meditations, bible studies and book clubs.
The house is occupied by “settlers” who contribute to the management of the house for a reduced rent.
Two of these settlers are Baylor senior Reid Pinkerton and his wife Drue Pinkerton. They signed a one-year lease to live at the settlement house and Reid Pinkerton documents his progress as manager of the environmental sustainability projects.
“‘Settler’ is my job description,” Reid Pinkerton said. “Its an unconventional and antiquated concept based on a 1900s social work phenomenon where groups of young people would live together intentionally to facilitate a space for gatherings. They would practice hospitality and intentional community for a few years and then go on with their lives.”
This includes work on the house, gardening, composting, building the gutters, drip irrigation system and rain barrels that harvest water for the garden.
“People come and go as they please, but groups who want to meet will contact us and we figure out the right area of time for them,” Drue Pinkerton said. “We find out what times they have available, what days we have available and what other meetings are coinciding so they can have their time here.”
The house is made up of the four settlers’ bedrooms, the living room, the library, the activity room and the backyard, where Reid Pinkerton often works.
“Right now I am working on rain water barrels for water harvesting and a drip irrigation system for the garden,” Reid Pinkerton said. “In the beginning of the semester, I laid out a plan to conserve water and energy for the house. I thought it would be simple, but I’ve discovered that the process of actually making it all a reality is complicated because there is so many components that I’ve had to teach myself. Its taught me self reliance.”
Since there is not much disposable capital in the house right now, Pinkerton has been calculating the amount of money the house would earn back and save if he insulated the house’s attic and crawlspace under it.
“The energy bill is crazy here,” Reid Pinkerton said. “After I seal up all the doors and insulate the house, I am going to start upgrading the energy efficiency of the appliances. The final step would be invest in solar panels.”
Reid Pinkerton describes himself as an idealist who wants to be self reliant. He has plans to join the Peace Corp and found that living in the house is decent preparation while finishing his last semester at Baylor.
“It’s a great privilege living here,” Reid Pinkerton said. “I enjoy the community and learning how to lean into my relationship intentionally with people who pass through here. It feels purposeful and meaningful to be working with people in the same proximity and in the same home with a shared values.”