Parents Rave About Cohousing Community in N. California

Imagine a community where neighbors know each other, kids play outside together until it’s time for dinner…and when that time comes, dinner is cooked and ready on the table.

“Calling the kids in for dinner can be challenging, because they’re having so much fun they don’t want to come home,” Carlyle Miller said about her two daughters. “So carving out that family time can be more challenging, but we’ve found ways to deal with that.”

Durrett said he and McCamant couldn’t have imagined raising their daughter in another environment.

“Parents can provide only so much guidance and fulfill only so many curiosities.  But what Jessie learned from playing with lots of kids just outside the door, what she learned from lengthy conversations with their parents, endless sports with neighbors ….  If people only knew what cohousing offered their kids, they would be there,” Durrett said in an email.

Read the full article here.

Interview with Katie McCamant

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Let’s Hear From An Expert
Kathryn McCamant, Cohousin
g Resident and Developer

What benefits does cohousing provide for those entering midlife and beyond?

“While most of us appreciate the independence and freedom of contemporary life, where women can have interesting careers, live independently, and generally have a wealth of options our mothers couldn’t even imagine, in that process we have also lost the community of proximity and the support of nearby extended family.

These days many of us have created our own community of choice—self-selected “tribes” to share holidays and special occasions with, rather than always depending on blood family—but we depend on our cars to connect us. When we suddenly find ourselves unable to drive, whether because of illness or aging, we can quickly go from a very busy life to immense isolation. Cohousing provides a way to create a strong community of proximity, right out your front door, while still allowing us to live active and independent lives in the city or region of our choice.”

Read the rest of the interview here on Next Act for Women.

Cohousing Info-graphic

Earlier this year, Towergate Insurance (one of the UK’s leading insurance intermediaries) produced a graphic with the laudable title: Is Cohousing the Future of Urban Design? Many of the takeaway stats from the doc are UK-specific, yet at their heart can certainly be applied to U.S. cohousing (and why it’s needed/in demand) too.

The graphic has already been popular among cohousing groups, and widely shared on social media. Take a look!

VIEW THE FULL INFO-GRAPHIC HERE.

Take for example, some striking facts related to living alone vs. in community:

  • “In terms of reducing overall health, loneliness is comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day!”
  • “Those who live alone are 2-3x less likely to survive a heart attack.”
  • “Living alone increases risk of depression by 80% for working-age people.”

And some good news world-wide on the cohousing front:

  • 8% of Danish households are now cohousing.”
  • Cohousing draw certainly spans the generations, from “the elderly to single people to families to the environmentally conscious.”
  • One which we can vouch for: “The internet and social media have made it easier than ever to connect with like-minded people interested in building cohousing communities.”

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The Social Portfolio

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What a great concept!

Social capital’s a fairly common buzzword these days, but I especially like the idea of taking stock of our connections. This notion, of a social portfolio, has been on my mind all week. In our age of near-constant digital connectivity, embracing our tangible community circles seems about as important as ever. I say this as a millennial, who’s blessed to live in a tight-knit town. Yet this value finds equal footing as we age – and the clip where this concept came from brings this idea home.

“Autonomy is most people’s biggest priority. Help is the sunny side of control.”

An audio clip from CBC Canada has been circling the cohousing world this week. The episode focuses on Harbourside Cohousing, in Sooke, British Columbia. On the tip of Vancouver Island, Canada’s second senior-focused cohousing community is rapidly taking shape. After two cohousing-members-to-be, an architect and anthropologist, took an Aging Successfully course with Chuck Durrett in the states, they returned enthused to launch a group. They’ve since then began facilitating their own version of the course, to launch the next wave of senior cohousing groups as their own community breaks ground.

Part of an interview for a documentary titled My Last Big Adventure, the clip below is peppered with members’ insights on aging well and community building. Definitely worth listening and sharing.

Harbourside

A few of my favorite gems from the community’s future-residents:

“We’re trying to revolutionize what it means to grow old!”

“I think you have to train for old age…if you don’t, it takes you by surprise.”

“Isn’t life a social experiment? This is a strategy for flourishing for the rest of our days. By living small, sharing and staying active and connected.”

“It’s easy to examine our finances. How many of us really look at our social portfolio?”

“This is probably my last big adventure, and I intend to enjoy it.”

Listen to the CBC Radio audio clip here: BC Seniors build a new way to age in place.

 

J leavesJenny Godwin | Cohousing Solutions
Media & Outreach Leader
NEW LOGO

Stillwater Cohousing 3 Years In

Stillwater collageStillwater cohousing community allows older residents control, support in their lives

At the end of last month, a local Oklahoma newspaper published an investigative article about a community near and dear to our hearts, Oakcreek Cohousing in Stillwater, OK.

Oakcreek Senior Cohousing is the first (and as of this article’s writing, the only) cohousing in Oklahoma. The group first launched in 2009, with eight local households inspired in the search for a better way to retire in Stillwater – a college town of about 50,000. As a senior community, the group ranges in age from early 60’s to late 80’s. CoHousing Solutions (then Partners) was hired in 2010 as development consultant for the project. The community completed construction of their homes and common house on their site in 2012, with all homes sold by the end of 2013.

Looking back, Darlington said the experience has exceeded her expectations in terms of building the community and bringing out the best in its residents.

“I didn’t know how much living in my own house isolated me,” she said. “It’s just fun and it’s so easy to have a casual visit — just sit down and chitchat for a minute.”

Darlington said she hopes to live the rest of her days at Oakcreek.

“I hope this is the place I die,” she said. “From the beginning I’ve said that I want you to carry me out of here feet first.

“I’ll hire someone down the road for my personal care when things get bad, but until then I know my neighbors will be here for me.”

You can read the rest of the article online here.

Neighborliness

Neighbor 1“The disappearance of these once-central relationships—between people who are familiar but not close, or friendly but not intimate—lies at the root of America’s economic woes and political gridlock.”

The Vanishing Neighbor, Marc Dunkelman

Have you talked with a neighbor today?
Would you recognize them at the store?
Would you know if tomorrow’s their birthday?

CITYLAB (from The Atlantic) released a fascinating article Aug 19th: Why Won’t You Be My Neighbor? based on recent data about neighborhood interactions. Striking facts, indicating a steady downward trend in interactions with one’s neighbors, even at the most basic level of knowing their (not just their dogs’) names. “We live in more sprawling communities, where people are literally living further from one another.” Fenced in & tuned out, some would say.

1/3 of Americans have never interacted with people living next door

<20% of Americans spend time regularly with people living next door

Only 1/3 of the population says, “most people can be trusted” – fallen from a majority in the 1970s

“There was this sort of cohort effect [in the 1920s-1960s] in which people…were more inclined in many cases to find security that existed in neighborhoods,” says Marc Dunkelman, who studied the shift in American communities for his book The Vanishing Neighbor (quoted above). “They depended on one another much more.”

Cohousing may not the be-all-end-all to building stronger neighborhoods, but breaking down perceived barriers to interaction (car-centered dwellings, lack of sidewalks/neighborhood walkability, perceptions of unfriendliness, etc.) goes quite a long ways towards fostered camaraderie; which, by the way, is itself defined as “mutual trust and friendship among people who spend a lot of time together.”

As any seasoned cohouser would likely tell you, spending quality time together is inherent in the fabric of these neighborhoods from move-in day on. You won’t walk out on your porch one day to find a new tenant moving in next door unannounced. Cohousing builds community bonds on a daily basis; say, from the simple act of arriving home from a trip to walk past the common house (oh right, tonight’s the harvest gathering! better dig up those cut-outs for the kids to carve with) to passing by a neighbor’s open door (looks like Julie’s back home visiting from college, I’ll stop by later to say hi) to finally arriving at your door to find a welcome back home! pumpkin bread and note on your porch.

Although I don’t myself live in cohousing, I’ve heard enough of these stories to know they’re commonplace, and a crucial part of just why these types of communities are not only successful but wholly necessary in our world today.

It’s no exaggeration to say we’re happier, healthier, longer-living people with these daily social interactions in our lives. Not simply feeling like another face behind a door or car-driver backing out of the carport, but a person who’s relied upon, and who can rely upon others nearby when necessary. A parent whose child seeks out spontaneous play dates both with a friend their age two doors down and an eighty-five-year-old adopted grandparent, eager to show off his model train collection. A seventy-year-old single woman who, having recently lost a spouse, finds community in common meals three times a week, where she can break bread with neighbors to honor her late husbands’ memory.

In cohousing communities your neighbor has more than just a name; they have a common meal specialty, a go-to skill, an evolving relationship with their neighbors – they can’t possibly be faceless. Neighbors tackle issues together, plan parties together and honor the passage of friends and neighbors together. Maybe we won’t solve the world’s problems on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood scale, but building bonds there is certainly not a bad place to start. And that’s why now, more than ever, community is truly priceless.

FOR MORE ON THIS TOPIC, CHECK OUT THE LINKS BELOW:

Jenny Godwin
CoHousing Solutions

It takes a village: the Temescal Creek Cohousing Community

Love this interview with cohousing activist Karen Hester of Temescal Creek Cohousing in Oakland, CA. This is one of two retrofit infill projects Katie of CoHousing Solutions worked on in that neighborhood in the 1990’s.

Offers such a great model of fitting into and strengthening an existing neighborhood. Been fun to see how they have settled in and continued growing, now an established part of a very up-and-coming neighborhood.

Click here to listen to the interview on KALW radio in San Francisco

Learn more about Temescal Creek’s vision in this Coho/US post

Stone Curves Turns 10 with Strong Sense of Community

Earlier this week, there was an excellent article about cohousing for families in the Arizona Daily Star. The article featured Stones Curves Cohousing in Tucson, AZ.

Said Ben Sargus, 11, “When we were at my old neighborhood I could only play with my friends on the weekends. Now when I finish my homework, I knock on doors and have friends to play with.”

“I love the interesting, diverse people in the neighborhood,” Gardner, age 18, said. “It’s given me many interesting perspectives to grow up with and insight into different ways to look at the world.”

Read the full article here.

Why DC Residents are Moving to Cohousing Communities

This past week, a piece about senior cohousing in the DC area appeared online in Washingtonian Magazine’s March 2015 issue. The article features Ann Zabaldo, a cohousing developer and Takoma Village resident. Eastern Village Cohousing is also given mention, as is Chuck Durrett of McCamant & Durrett Architects/The Cohousing Company, who predicts that “as baby boomers and empty-nesters demand more innovative retirement options,” cohousing will see even wider adoption.

There will be a number of great opportunities to continue this conversation at the National Cohousing Conference, including at the How to Get a Senior Cohousing Community Started intensive. Additionally, Ann will be leading an in-depth case study of her home community as a session offering.

Continue reading the article here.

Photo Essay: At a Half-Mile-Long Table, Chefs, Farmers, and Volunteers Feed a Neighborhood for Free

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

The above photo is from a great article written by YES! Magazine about the talk inspired over a great meal. Of course cohousers are already well aware of the power common meals bring, literally, to the table. Whether you celebrate this holiday with friends, family or neighbors, remember this opportunity to build community with every bite.

See the rest of the article by clicking here.