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Big Love on Staten Island

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When Ian finally talked to her, he discovered that his girlfriend had been wanting to make a life change. “She’s the chair of the department where she teaches, and she would like more time to write,” he says. “Without all the stress of dealing with a house and such, she’ll finally have time to do it.” When the euphoria wears off, Ian’s characteristic ambivalence may return—or not. For now, he’s loving being a radical communitarian with traditional family values.

“My girlfriend’s son calls this place a ‘house town,’ ” Ian says. He stares intensely at the interconnected houses and gardens that make up Ganas, as if trying to imagine the place with his new family in it.

“This way she can really get to know me,” he says. “It’s like when you marry someone from another country but you don’t truly understand them until you visit that country for a while. This is my country. I built it. This is where I’m from.”


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