You’ve read about cohousing on this blog (click on the tag on the right and you’ll see all the cohousing posts). It’s long been an interest of mine. I’ll be starting a new blog/website on this topic and further posts will be there, but I also want to share it with this broader community. Read the vision – and if you are interested in more information and will want to be on that blog and/or Facebook page, indicate that in the comments.
Hi. I’m Diane Scholten. For many years my friend Sue McGill and I have talked about living more intentionally with others. We first investigated “Intentional Communities” – think of hippie communes grown up – a community with a shared vision, often incorporating work with living (“The Farm” in Tennessee, Findhorn in Scotland).
Then we heard about “Cohousing”. Born in Denmark, introduced to the US within the last twenty or so years, cohousing seemed a better fit. Think of ‘an enlightened neighborhood’. The Cohousing Organization defines cohousing as: “Cohousing is a type of collaborative housing in which residents actively participate in the design and operation of their own neighborhoods. Cohousing residents are consciously committed to living as a community. The physical design encourages both social contact and individual space. Private homes contain all the features of conventional homes, but residents also have access to extensive common facilities such as open space, courtyards, a playground and a common house.” (http://www.cohousing.org/what_is_cohousing).
Sue, our dear friend Bill, and I are planning to live in cohousing as we sail into our wise elder years. We are now ready to move forward and find others interested in joining us. While we are moving into elder years, we very much envision a multi-generational community.
- People who want to live with more meaning, intention.
- People who care about sustainability and the Earth.
- People who value connection with others (while also valuing their need for independence).
- People who value nature.
- People who value pets.
- People who value children, adults and elders.
- People who are active and involved.
- People who believe in shared decision-making and shared responsibility.
- People who want to help create community.
- People who like to have FUN!
We are envisioning creating a cohousing community with 12-30 small or mid-sized houses and a large ‘common house.’ A primary appeal of cohousing is that each household – be it an individual, a couple or a family – can have a smaller space with the common house providing shared space. For instance – the common house would have a large kitchen for opt-in community meals (the community would decide if these would be weekly, nightly, etc.) The common house could have 2 guest bedrooms – alleviating the need for each household to have space to accommodate guests. As part of our exploration, those who help create the community will flesh out a vision for the common house and we will post some initial discussion starting ideas soon.
Houses will be arranged to encourage interaction with community members while also maintaining privacy. We envision a mix of small houses, small houses that could be expanded and mid-sized houses for families.
Open space, gardening areas, play areas for children and pets are all important attributes.
While we have been considering Madison, Wisconsin (Diane’s first choice) and Asheville, NC (Sue’s first choice) we are currently focusing on somewhere around Woodstock, Illinois. However, this is open to discussion.
As soon as we have enough people to move forward with planning. We are envisioning spending a year planning/designing and then building. We’d like to begin the planning process this summer.
Here are some of the reasons why WE are interested in cohousing. We’d love to hear YOUR whys!
- Living more lightly on the earth. Design with sustainability in mind – build ‘green’
- Sharing resources: Why have 10 Vitamixes when you can have 1?
- Community! Sharing LIFE, not just stuff
- Inter-generational. We hope to have younger friends, kids as well as we elders – we all have so much to give one another and so much to learn from one another
- Form a core group of people who are definitely interested
- Ready to do this within two or so years
- Have financial resources to move forward (see How Much)
- Willing and able to do the ‘roll up your shirt sleeves’ planning work
- Read, take seminars, perhaps engage a cohousing consultant early on
- Decide on a locale
- Talk to an architect (Diane has already reached out preliminarily to Design Coalition in Madison, WI who have experience in creating cohousing)
- Create a budget
- Create a timeline
- Find land
- …. The Initial committee will flesh out a detailed work program
We don’t know yet (obviously) but we are hoping to create a community with various price options. Bear in mind that in community you are paying for your own house, but also the common house, shared land, etc.
Cohousing can have a wide range of prices. I am hoping that we can create a community with options – from $175K – $300K. But this is very much up in the air.
And while I’m initially envisioning a community of small houses, perhaps we’ll have mixed housing – some small houses, some mid-sized houses and a block of condo/townhouses.
One thing we’ll want to know from prospective cohousing neighbors is what YOUR housing budget allows.
- Learn about cohousing
- Maybe read some books. Here are two that Diane just ordered (and I already have some):
- Creating Cohousing: Building Sustainable Communities
- Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to build Ecovillages and Intentional Communities
- Let us know if you are interested
- We will be creating a survey asking about timeframes, $ amounts, locale, attributes you seek, skills you have, etc. – start thinking about these things
We’re excited about this new venture – and we hope you’ll consider joining us!