BY: Sophie Brickman
I first spoke to Prophet Walker about a year ago, when I was pregnant with our third child and fresh off a Covid-precipitated six-month stint of living with my parents. Whether it was the kindergartner getting sick, or navigating a crushing deadline with a preschooler underfoot, or juggling dinnertime while eight months pregnant and unable to reach the mac ’n’ cheese that had been smeared on the floor unless I actually lay down on the floor – at which point I’d have needed a crane to right myself – I began to feel desperate for my parents’ extra sets of hands, and wondering how on earth we’d ever made it work without them.
It took a pandemic for me to put my own living practices under the spotlight. Walker had been doing so for his entire life. He is now spearheading a movement to get people to recognize the myriad benefits of ditching that very American vision of two parents, two and a half kids and a white picket fence for the communal living that defined families for millennia.
“I grew up poor, with all the hell that came along with that,” he told me over Zoom, out on his deck last February, pink flowers glowing almost psychedelically behind him. “The thing that kept my sanity was the community around me, and what struck me was that even living in those housing projects, there was real, legitimate joy. Belly laughs, you know?”