Summit Avenue Cooperative

Madison, Wisconsin, United States

  • Last updated: January 3, 2019 (2 seconds ago)
  • Listing created on: December 31, 1999

Mission Statement

Residential housing and meals

Community Description

We are an independent housing co-op in a historic neighborhood on the near west side of Madison, Wisconsin. The co-op was formed in 1970 when we obtained ownership of a large, three-story house from an agricultural fraternity at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The membership has gone through many changes since then, but the goal has always been to provide affordable housing in a friendly, family-like community environment. Our diverse membership includes students, professionals, and working folks from all walks of life, and we share no particular political or ideological bent.

We all share the duties of running the house, from cooking to cleaning to keeping the books, through a work-job system that entails about five hours per week of work, plus dish-washing or floor-mopping duty every week or so.

The heart of our community life revolves around the delicious, vegetarian-option house meals served Sunday through Thursday at 6pm. We make decisions, usually by simple majority, at house meetings held every two and a half weeks. Temporary committees are regularly created to handle specific projects such as financial planning or landscape planning.

What makes us special? We’re a bunch of quirky, unrelated folks who manage to operate almost like a family and run a clean, friendly home, and it works!


  • Type(s): Shared Housing, Cohouseholding, or Coliving (multiple individuals sharing a dwelling)
  • Programs & Activities: Neighborhood, Community Housing, or Homeowner’s Association
  • Location: Urban


  • Status: We have land we have developed on
  • Area: 0.5 acres
  • Current Residence Types: Room(s) in a house or building
  • Current Number of Residences: 1
  • Housing Provided: Rental
  • Land owned by: The entire community membership


  • Adult Members: 17
  • Percent Women: 0%
  • Visitors accepted: Yes
  • Visitor Process:

    We are unable to provide housing for visitors, but interested people are welcome to join us for dinner and conversation. Please call in advance or e-mail [email protected] if interested in membershipping.

  • Open to new Members: Yes
  • Membership Process:

    For local membershippers attend three dinners and submit an application.
    For long distance membershippers, fill out a questionnaire and submit and application.
    Preference is not given to either local or long distance membershippers.
    Membershipppers decisions are made by consensus.


  • Decision Making: Voting (majority or super-majority rule)
  • Identified Leader: No
  • Leadership Core Group: Yes


  • Join Fee: $75
  • Dues, Fees, or Shared Expenses: Yes
  • Shared Income: None
  • Required Labor Contribution per Week: 5
  • Open to members with existing debt: Yes (some debt)
  • Additional Comments:

    Monthly contribution ranges from $414 to $622 as of 2019, depending on room size.

Sustainability Practices

  • Energy Infrastructure: We are connected to the grid.
  • Current food produced: 0%, or close to 0%


  • Common Facilities: Common House, Garden(s), Library, Fire pit, Internet
  • Internet Available: Yes, community provides it
  • Internet Fast?: Yes, it’s fine.
  • Cell Phone Service: Good for most people.
  • Shared meals: 2-5 times per week
  • Dietary Practice: Organic (no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers), Mostly Vegetarian
  • Dietary Choice or Restrictions: No – people may eat however they wish.
  • Special Diets OK: Sometimes
  • Alcohol Use: Yes, used occasionally.
  • Tobacco Use: Yes, used seldomly, or ceremoniously.
  • Additional Diet Comments:

    Common meals are required to be primarily vegetarian but may occasionally include a meat option at the discretion of the cook for the evening.

    Smoking is not permitted in shared living spaces but is allowed outdoors.

Photo Gallery

Community Network or Organization Affiliations

The Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC)