Think cohousing is right for you? Great! We advise anyone who is considering starting their own cohousing community to begin by educating themselves. Read below for additional tips.
There are many useful books to provide a jumping off point for educating yourself. Successful cohousing groups have most of these on their bookshelves.
FEATURE: The cohousing “bible” with many new North American case studies, design principles and sustainable design practices. Written by cohousing experts Katie McCamant and Chuck Durrett, who first introduced the housing model to the U.S. with the book’s first edition in 1994. With over 160 cohousing communities now in existence in North America, the authors bring us a “must-have” book for cohousers, and anyone interested in creating more people-friendly neighborhoods.
- The Senior Cohousing Handbook
- Creating Cohousing: Building Sustainable Communities
- Finding a Site: Cohousing From the Ground Up
- Growing Community: How to Find New Cohousing Members
Beyond reading through the above books and this website, The Cohousing Association of the U.S. provides extensive information on existing communities and those in process. They have the most complete information about upcoming conferences and events as well as the best directory of cohousing communities in North America.
Visit Built Communities
Take a look around The Cohousing Association’s website to get acquainted with existing projects in your desired area, using the directory to identify openings in your state. This is the easiest way to jump right into cohousing. Coho/US also has a Cohousing Directory Map, which acts as a useful tool for identifying the communities closest to you.
After identifying local communities, schedule a visit. The Cohousing Association calendar provides up-to-date info on excellent bus tours, with community contacts for arranging individual tours. Most built communities are happy to meet and talk with future cohousers.
Start a Group
If you want to start a new community, your first step is to form a group of would-be cohousers. It can seem daunting at first when it’s just you and a few friends who’re interested, but most successful cohousing projects begin with just a few burning souls and motivation!
Outreach ideas for finding more interested individuals or families in your community:
- contact friends and family
- utilize both physical and online community message boards
- contact your local chamber of commerce
- recruit and educate through local churches
- utilize library boards and events
- set up a table at your local food co-op
- advertise to parents at childcare centers
- contact local neighborhood associations
- search for or create Meetup Groups
Take a look at Growing Community: How to Find New Cohousing Members above if you’re feeling stuck. You can make use of the cohousing books and videos on our website to show interested people what cohousing is. Remember, building a strong contact database now will provide willing hands for later work, as you schedule workshops, community slideshows, or CoHousing Solutions sponsored events.
Getting it Built Workshop
Training workshops are an invaluable piece of getting your cohousing community up and rolling. The “Getting It Built” workshop sponsored by CoHousing Solutions, Wonderland Hill Development and McCamant & Durrett Architects is 30 years in the making and will give your core group the background to make educated decisions on how best to proceed. This workshop has acted as the “kick off” for getting serious for many existing communities (contact us for references). The workshop covers development strategies, timelines, financing options, raising the money, working together, and outreach and recruitment, as well as providing preparation to begin looking for property. If you already have a specific site in mind you can request a custom workshop, which will tailor budgets and timelines to the land in question. Call us at 530-478-1970 to discuss schedules and details for arranging a workshop in your area.
Whether you’re promoting a “Getting it Built” Workshop, sponsoring a film showing of Happy or starting a Creating CoHousing book group, be sure your advertising invites new cohousing members to the table. The outreach possibilities listed above in “Start a Group” apply as to outreach to local and regional media sources. It’s important to remember that local media will only cover you a few times, so be sure you utilize these sources to highlight critical moments like before a big event. Don’t underestimate the power of social media (Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn especially), even with outreach to older folks in your community (according to a recent study, 73% of the boomer generation uses Facebook). Creating your own pages through these platforms can be a useful recruitment tool, as is maintaining a solid website.
We would be happy to speak with you. Feel free to call us at 530-478-1970 or email CoHousing Solutions to discuss your project goals, we want to see you succeed!