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.


Jenny Godwin
CoHousing Solutions

Cohousing Slideshow in Riverside, CA

Riverside GIB Flyer

500 Communities Applications Are In!

It’s enormously satisfying to see this collaborative community already beginning to form, embodied in 500 Communities Program enthusiasm these past 6+ months!

When Katie’s vision for this Program formed last summer, it began as an idea: train a collaborative network of cohousing Professionals, ready to take on the challenging but rewarding work of building the next generation of cohousing communities.


    This Fall, we anticipated a great deal of promotion and exciting discussions ahead of us.

It seems like just yesterday we began outreach for the Program: posts here on our website, / Cohousing-L, Facebook, Twitter, word-of-mouth, old friends in the cohousing world, new connections, and of course – our official launch last month at the National Cohousing Conference.

 A big thank you to all our 2015 Program Applicants!

We can’t wait to begin reading through your applications, and look forward to connecting again, come decision time, near the end of this month.

In gratitude,

J profile large

CoHousing Solutions Media & Outreach

Advertising on Coho/US

We’re pleased to share our 1st CoHousing Solutions Professional Services Ad on Coho/US!

If you’re a community-in-focohous_logo2_0_0rmation – seeking to increase your membership, target those in-the-know and connect with fellow cohousers…OR you’re an established community looking to rent/sell a unit, we highly recommend Coho/US as an advertising resource.

Their ad packages include a wide range of offerings (with more details here), such as:

And of course their site’s usefulness is extensive without spending a penny too. You can join the Cohousing-L email listserv to see behind-the-scenes cohousing discussions relevant to our communities today, learn more about aging in cohousing or get resources for successful group process/policy work – plus a whole lot more. One stop shopping!

And take a peek at our new ad if you’d like:NEW LOGO
CoHousing Solutions | Sustainable Neighborhood Consultants

Largest Nat’l Coho Conference Ever!

Conference snap2

Jenny of CoHousing Solutions, re-posted from 

WOW. I’d wager it’s not just me feeling giddy after the Cohousing Conference. It’s even hard to choose a standout moment.

As a pre-Conference volunteer, I had a chance to see some of those gears cranking in the months leading up to May, and really, just got a small taste of the enormous amount of organizing, passion and many, many, many hands involved.

This convergence was the product of so much thoughtful planning (the trick of course is making it look so seamless and easy!) So, THANK YOU to all the incredible Conference sponsors and volunteers, most especially U.S. Cohousing, with Alice at the helm. I know I walked away with a deeper appreciation for the movement and a myriad of both time-tested and new ideas to spark successful communities. It was an honor to witness that in action.

For a reminder of all the organizations/businesses/communities involved, here’s the slideshow I created for the Friday Night Keynote dinner:


Anyone interested in the social media buzz about the Conference: take a look at the photos and discussion on the Twitter page.

And one last plug: If you haven’t filled out the Conference survey yet, help shape the 2017 Conference by doing so here.