In honor of the National Cohousing Conference which starts tomorrow in Boston, MA we’ll do a little round up of cohousing in the news lately. This will also help me catch up on the news as I’ve gotten a little behind lately, in no small part due to the success of cohousing and its mainstream media appeal.
This weekend, Bentley College in Waltham will host the 2008 National Cohousing Conference, an event that will focus on the growing number of cohousing communities – close-knit “mini-neighborhoods” that share common space, are environmentally-friendly and whose residents help each other out.
JP Cohousing consists of two buildings that house 30 multigenerational households in individual units, as well as a common house with dining rooms, a kitchen, offices and other communal areas, which resident Jeanne Goodman calls “an extension of our homes.”
The common space helps to lower the community’s carbon footprint, as well as to engender closeness and cooperation amongst the residents.
Blue Ridge is a typical cohousing development. It consists of 26 houses, each individually owned, bought and sold. However, cars will be parked away from the houses, which are built close together. A historic house will serve as common space for meals and activities, and everything is pedestrian friendly. In many ways, the idea of cohousing exists as a cross between a traditional subdivision and a college dorm.
But during the approval process, some neighbors argued that 26 houses on the six-acre site was too dense for the outskirts of Crozet, which has already seen brisk growth. The nature of cohousing, putting housing close together to increase walking and preserve more green space, lends itself to being more dense than other traditional developments.
The Cedar Hill couple had considered other active-adult and senior-living communities where they might retire, but they were disappointed to find places that were too big or impersonal. That’s when they joined a group of kindred spirits to build a close-knit community from scratch.
“We’ve planned for our retirement in reverse, I guess,” Mr. Klipp said. “Typically, people pick out a community and then take their chances with the neighbors. Here, we’ve gotten to know our future neighbors as we’ve sat down to design our community.”
The Nuwire Investor has an article, The Cohousing Life: Developments Bringing People Together which praises cohousing in general and has quotes from CoHo Ecovillage in Corvallis, OR and Puget Ridge Cohousing in Seattle, WA.
“It’s all about community,” said Colleen Dyrud of CoHo Ecovillage in Corvallis, Ore. “Not only knowing your neighbors, but sharing a piece of your life with them.”
Forming a cohousing development is a process that can take several years. “It’s been great so far, but it is still a long process,” O’Brien said. “There is a big learning curve for a small group of us with no experience trying to put together a $12 million project.”
Meanwhile in Sydney Australia the Sydney Morning Herald laments how cohousing has been slow to take off in Australia.
If Sydney co-housing follows the international model, it will not just be for hippies. In Sweden, everyone from doctors to teachers and lawyers chooses co-operative housing, with high status attached to membership. But while more than 360,000 Swedish apartments are part of co-housing, and the United States has more than 100 co-housing communities and 100 more being developed, it has been slow to take off in Australia.
So if you are at the cohousing conference, have fun, and if not you’ve got plenty of articles to read.
Cohousing catching on in the Bay State – Boston Metro News
Cohousing creates community (and density) – Cville News and Arts
Dallas-Fort Worth group creating 1st Texas cohousing community – Dallas Morning News
The Cohousing Life: Developments Bringing People Together – NuWire Investor
Together to live better, yet still apart – Sydney Morning Herald