In the News
As we near the end of 2016, we who are so lucky to live in community have much to be grateful for; most importantly: good, caring neighbors who are willing to actively engage in the process of creating great neighborhoods to grow up in, and to age in.
How can we best work together to meet our diverse needs? How can I be better at truly hearing you? By sharing my own vulnerabilities, can I help to create a “safe” place for others? When I see you take action, I too am inspired to do my part to create a fairer world.
In our communities, we practice and refine our communication skills, our ability to work collaboratively, and most importantly, to always treat all people with respect. We model a world we dream of for our children, and our children take it forth into the world in so many different ways.
May the holiday season bring you opportunities to appreciate what we have created together, and may the new year bring you and your family and community even more opportunities to practice these skills as we seek to build a more respectful and sustainable world.
With Much Gratitude,
I had drafted a piece for this month’s newsletter titled “abundance,” describing my community’s Harvest Festival and my gratitude for all I have here, in Nevada City Cohousing. But after the election, that no longer felt appropriate. I am, quite frankly, shocked and dismayed that a man that shows so little respect for people has just been elected to the most powerful position in the country. Apparently there are a lot of Americans that see the world very differently than I do.
I have spent my entire adult life trying to create communities that honor that everyone has something to contribute, that reduce our impact on the world’s resources, where we strive to treat each other with respect even when we disagree. This election appears to repudiate all that I have worked for and believe in.
The morning after the election, I read an email posted on Coho-L from Ann Zabaldo of Takoma Village in Washington, DC:
Last night, at 1:45 a.m., my neighbor Carrie and I packed up the projector and the computer (in the common house) and headed home…You might consider the emotions I might be feeling at that juncture…would be sadness, anger, confusion, bemusement, bewilderment, anxiety, depression, etc. Instead, I felt profoundly lonely.
…when I woke up this morning at 5:30 a.m., I was profoundly grateful. I live in cohousing. Now, it’s not just that I have all my neighbors so I won’t be lonely. It’s something bigger than that. A lot bigger.
Cohousing allows me to tackle the issues I want to tackle. I’m not waiting around for “The Government” to deal with issues around aging. Or the challenges single parents face (and two parent households, too!). Or, environmental and energy challenges. Or, latch key kids. Or any of many dozens of other social challenges facing society today. I have a blueprint for how to tackle these issues: Cohousing Communities. I don’t have to wait around for a government program. I can just keep building more communities.
So on this morning after the night before, I am moved to say how grateful I am to Katie McCamant and Chuck Durrett for giving me this blueprint. From the day I read the first paragraph in the first edition of “Cohousing” I have never wavered in my belief and commitment that community has the power to change the world – one cohousing community at a time.That’s a gift, Katie and Chuck. Thank you.
WOW! Thank you Ann! That certainly made my day.
And I agree, we must keep creating healthy communities that teach people to work together, only better and broader. We must make sure our communities are not isolated islands, but rather beacons of hope of how people can work together respectfully, spreading love and hope rather than anger and fear. May our communities sustain us so that we can be even stronger advocates for a more just society for everyone. We must not let this election discourage our efforts. The one thing we can count on now is there will be no financial assistance from the federal government for the foreseeable future to create more affordable housing, protect our environment, or slow climate change.
It is up to us to keep moving those efforts forward as best we can. And I still believe, we can do that best in community.
Always Stronger Together!
– Katie McCamant, CoHousing Solutions
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.
By Katie of CoHousing Solutions | Nevada City Cohousing resident
As the days grow cooler and we clean out our summer gardens, my community here in the Sierra Foothills soaks in the abundance we reap. We’ve harvested apples and pears from our 10-year-old fruit trees. We’re still getting greens out of the garden, but the tomatoes are done for the year.
This weekend we celebrated with our annual Harvest Festival. We began with a workday, deep cleaning the common house and sprucing up the outdoors. In the afternoon, we had crafts on the terrace where I specialize in wreaths made from the grapevines on my porch, decorated with leaves and herbs from the garden. Making or updating your grapevine wreath has become part of the Harvest Festival Tradition. But alas, no one can concentrate on making wreaths until they’ve attempted the ever-popular donut-on-a-string contest.
After crafts, we gather for the highly competitive Chili Cook-off, along with competitions for cornbread, side dishes and dessert. Much tasting, trying again, and just one more try to make sure… Of course, the vegetarian and less spicy versions have an advantage, as everyone can taste those. Once the winners are announced, we quickly clear the floor for the dance. This is the one time a year we hire a band and a caller to lead us in “old-timey” contra dancing. I love to watch my neighbors of all ages dancing and playing together.
But it shouldn’t be underestimated how satisfying it is to work together with your neighbors to make the place look great. Now that we’ve had this tradition for many years, it’s amazingly easy to put on, everyone chipping in as they’re able. All in all, a fun and satisfying day, celebrating our bountiful harvest in so many ways.
Living in community may not be utopia, but it’s a pretty wonderful place to live…feeling full of abundance.
Join Gorge Cohousing the weekend of October 21st-23rd for a rich cohousing experience.
Free Cohousing Presentation on Friday the 21st, given by Katie McCamant of CoHousing Solutions and Chuck Durrett of McCamant & Durrett Architects. The Getting-It-Built Workshop on Saturday the 22nd & Sunday the 23rd requires pre-registration.
Visit www.gorgecohousing.com for more info on both events.
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Katie McCamant | CoHousing Solutions & Nevada City Cohousing
Living in community, we have an opportunity to create a culture of appreciation, or not. This doesn’t happen casually. I consider myself a typical cohouser, in that, if you ask me, I’m guaranteed to have an opinion. But sometimes we don’t need more opinions, we just need people to appreciate our efforts. In my community, Nevada City Cohousing, we found ourselves overwhelmed with too many opinions after move-in, ten years ago. Everyone wanted a say on everything. We had to consciously tell ourselves “assume best intent,” rather than questioning why someone or some committee did this or that.
It takes conscious effort to learn to appreciate that others have taken the time to think through some aspect of our community management, and that, thus, I don’t have to worry about it. Now I’m better at thanking people for what they do, rather than questioning why they choose that way to do it. I know they too are concerned about our community’s health, and have invested time and thought into doing what they’re doing. Rather than question their effort, I can make better use of my time by focusing on the areas I’m most involved in for our community, the landscape and finance teams.
I saw the payoff of this culture of appreciation recently, when I casually chatted with a neighbor in the pool as I walked by. Barry has been point person on our pool and spa team since we moved in 10 years ago. Residents do all of pool maintenance, including the daily testing, dealing with the County health inspectors and annual licensing. I thanked Barry for all his efforts as I walked by, and then thought to ask if he was going to “shock” the pool (we try to keep the chemicals as low as possible, but after a high-use weekend more chorine is needed). Barry asked when I wanted to swim. I love to swim in the dark pool just before bed, especially after a hot summer day. I said I’d be out by 10 pm, Barry said he’d shock it after that. And thus, my simple attempt to appreciate my neighbor’s efforts paid off with a change in schedule allowing me to swim later that day. This would have never happened in a condo pool, maintained by a hired contractor on a schedule. More importantly, people will always be willing to do more when they feel their efforts are appreciated, not questioned.
Mission Peak Cohousing in Fremont, CA is sponsoring a Getting-It-Built Workshop with CoHousing Solutions’ Katie McCamant and McCamant & Durrett Architect’s Chuck Durrett. This is an opportunity that doesn’t come around often, a Bay Area GIB. Don’t miss out!
REGISTERING: Mission Peak Cohousing is welcoming anyone to register for the Workshop. Secure your spot – the early-bird discount is fast approaching!
Send your $350, postmarked by March 22, 2016 to receive the discount.
March 22-31: $400 for the two-day workshop.
Make check payable to Mission Peak Cohousing.
Mail with your contact information to:
35366 Ronda Ct.
Fremont, CA 94536
BONUS: Attend a Friday Cohousing Presentation as a Workshop kick-off: VIEW FLYER.
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.”
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!
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.”