Creating community within the Domes

Creating community within the Domes

Photo Credits: Trevor Goodman / Aggie. The Baggins End Domes, also known as The Domes or the Davis Domes, are a student housing cooperative at the UC Davis built by student in 1972.

Student input on how this co-op serves as an oasis for personal connection

The Domes — a living-learning cooperative community on the Northwest edge of campus— are comprised of 14 white hemispheres that serve as a reminder of the free-minded thinking of the 1970s. Surrounded by foliage and gardens, this living community feels like an oasis, drawing students from a diverse set of backgrounds. 

Because of the Domes’ altruistic history, inhabitants still maintain an emphasis on innovative thinking and harmonious living. The Domes were inspired by a need for a low-cost housing option for Davis residents who wanted a unique housing experience. The utopian community was threatened in 2011, but it was saved thanks to student and supporter mobilization.

The structures themselves are made of fiberglass and are mounted on concrete bases. Each dome houses two individuals, and a loft inside provides additional space. Each dome is unique, which aptly represents the wide array of individuals residing there. Some domes have intricate murals passed down from former inhabitants, while others are home to a variety of indoor plants. The effect is a collection of all things new and old, making each dome drastically different from the last. 

Ross Collier, a fifth-year English major and a current resident at the Domes, has found the co-op experience to be both eye-opening and valuable.

“I used to have a very individualistic mindset, but coming here, it’s honestly better to have a more communal mindset because one, you can’t do everything by yourself and two, it’s good to have people there for you,” Collier said. “It’s a lot warmer and a feeling that’s hard to describe.”

Hailing from Oakland, Collier found out about the Domes from a friend, and was attracted to the initial notion of a supportive, community based group on campus.

The Domes’ culture of mutual support presents itself in a variety of ways, from nightly potluck dinners to weekend clothing swaps. According to Collier, the most rewarding element of the Domes is the sense of community built through acceptance and kindness. 

“Everyone is really open and kind, and wants to see everyone succeed,” Collier explained. “[The Domes] are here to advocate for anyone who needs help, and we value and cherish community and love and prosperity for people of all intersectionalities.”

Collier laid out the structure for his ideal society, mirroring the Domes’ call for change.

“I’m going to keep going back to that word: community,” Collier said. “Sometimes it feels like a lot of people are just out there for themselves, especially in this capitalist mindset. I feel like we need to focus more on people and on helping one another to bring each other up. I want a world where there is more equity and more community, because I feel like that will lead to less marginalization of different communities, [particularly] communities of color.”

Written by: Athena Aghighi — features@theaggie.org