Most people would think that there are no positives in breaking an arm. In cohousing, the decision is more complex. When I was eight years old, I was having a swinging contest with my neighbor Kaden. I must confess it wasn’t just a swinging contest. It was a jumping off of swings contest. Kaden and I would swing as high as possible on our community playground and then jump off. The person who landed farthest away from the playground won. I had been warned many times not to do this, but I thought that I was as tough as rock and did it anyway.
Wendy Wiesner, PFAC (Partnerships for Affordable Cohousing)
[Wendy is responding to an inquiry from a person in Sacramento seeking affordable cohousing options, who writes: I’ve been trying to crack this cohousing egg for many years without luck. We have many new cohousing projects either developed or in development in the Sacramento, California area, but when I ask about affordable units, I get no response.Visit here to read Part I.
Coho/US is presenting a retreat Sept 30 – Oct 2 called “Dealing with Diverse Personalities in Community” at Arcosanti, Arizona. Arcosanti is an experimental community between Flagstaff and Phoenix built by a bunch of volunteers to demonstrate sustainable alternatives to urban sprawl and also the home to a bronze bell foundry. Arcosanti will be the location for another experiment of sorts as the venue for this retreat, facilitated by Jeff Zucker and myself. “De-escalation”has been in the news lately. Our retreat will concentrate on how individuals within communities of any ilk can learn some skills about exploring the roots of your own diverse personality, how to become aware of others’ diverse personality traits and how to de-escalate when personalities clash.... I had heard about community skirmishes, but this is the first time I’d been in the middle of one.
Wendy Wiesner, PFAC (Partnerships for Affordable Cohousing)
[Wendy is responding to an inquiry from a person in Sacramento seeking affordable cohousing options, who writes: I’ve been trying to crack this cohousing egg for many years without luck. We have many new cohousing projects either developed or in development in the Sacramento, California area, but when I ask about affordable units, I get no response.
....It is likely your requests were fielded in the past by someone who didn't really know how to respond to them. When a person with needs--financial or otherwise--contacts a cohousing community and wants to join it, chances are that there's no procedure, policy or guidelines in place for handling this special request. So if PFAC refers the request, it does so with the unfortunate knowledge that it might be doing nothing more than exporting a quandary. This quandary becomes a crisis when an active community participant can't in the end afford to move in, leaving a community on the verge of construction short of pre-sales, and a valued community member without a home!
I’ve lived in cohousing for all I can remember- nearly my whole life! When I was 13 months old my family moved into the friendly community that surrounds our everyday lives. When I meet people interested in cohousing, they all ask what it’s like to grow up here. So many people ask that one question-- the one question I can’t answer. The truth is, I don’t know what it’s like to not grow up in cohousing. There are obvious differences, like the lack of roads, the close houses, and the friendly people, that even I understand.
Here is the text of the letter I read at the Aging Better Together conference in Salt Lake City. My neurologist friend who wrote the letter has since given permission to use.
Hey STEVEN, here are some facts from 2010:
Medicare paid $55 billion just for doctor and hospital bills during the last two months of patients' lives. That's more than the budget for the Department of Homeland Security, or the Department of Education - and it has been estimated that 20 to 30 percent of these medical expenses may have had no meaningful impact....About 20% of Americans will die in an Intensive Care Unit at an average cost of $10,000 per day.
The question is, where would you want to die? How do you want to die? If we don't ask the questions then we will not have options.
Everyone has one. It doesn’t matter what your gender is, or your ethnicity. Whether you are young, old, tall, short, liberal, conservative, gregarious or introverted, you have one, and so does every other person on the planet.
What is it?
Some people even have multiple personalities, and we all know that we act differently at work than we do at home. We interact differently with our parents than we do with our children, or the person next door....But, when we intend to build a harmonious community, it is sometimes challenging to create a collaborative environment with people who are so different from us. “If only they would understand things the way that I do,” we say to ourselves. “If only.”
[Editor's Note: Many of us have "Joani" stories. Many of us can thank Joani for engaging us to cohousing; still more of us are grateful for the wisdom and encouragement she has provided to so many. I encourage you to share those stories with me! Alice Alexander, Coho/US Executive Director; alicecohous [at] gmail [dot] com]
I have very recently received a diagnosis of metastatic pancreatic cancer. It is a very aggressive form of cancer with a poor prognosis, and it is likely that I do not have a lot of time left.For that reason, I intend to treat only my symptoms, not the disease itself, because I want to enjoy myself and not feel sick during whatever time remains....People often don’t know how to respond to a cancer announcement, so let me tell you what will work and not work for me.
Catherine and Allan Stephenson (Rancho La Salud Village, Ajijic, Mexico)
So you are thinking about retirement. Or may already be retired. You know that in this next phase of your life you would like to have a new adventure-- new experiences, new culture, new environment, new lifestyle, new climate and maybe a new language. But not so different that you are no longer connected to your American culture, your children and grandchildren and your friends. These were the desires that my husband and I had as we approached our retirement years.
Following the first cohousing community in the US, Muir Commons in Davis, California, cohousing has not only continued to expand throughout the US and Canada, it has also become a model for other housing types (seniors housing, nonprofit affordable housing), and a building block for other larger communities, ecovillages in particular. The Yarrow Ecovillage is one such project. True to the cohousing concept in general, it aims to re-establish many of the advantages of traditional villages within the context of 21st century life....The site of this community is a former dairy farm, left inactive in the 1980s. Quite conveniently, the site is also on a main road that connects the small town of Yarrow (drained by decades of suburban sprawl, and now incorporated with its neighboring town of Chilliwack) with both urban Vancouver (to its west) and the natural beauty of the Fraser Valley. Yarrow Ecovillage offers the possibility of creating a new town center for Yarrow, a place for living combined with commerce. The 25-acre site on Yarrow Central Road in Chilliwack, British Columbia, includes a 33-unit intergenerational cohousing project, a 30,000-square-foot mixed-use area (commercial, rental units, learning, etc.), a 20-acre farm, and a 17-unit senior cohousing community.