[Editor's Note: Chuck Durrett with McCamant & Durrett Architects is developing a training program for architects, detailed at the end of this blog, which is reposted from A Word from Chuck: Reporting from the National Cohousing Conference in Durham, NC from MDA's newsletter.]
When Katie & I traveled to Denmark in 1984 and studied the details of how to help plan a well functioning cohousing community, we watched the best in the world do it, day after day. We visited the best and we visited the worst and we examined in great detail, what made them different. We interviewed many hundreds of residents who had organized, co-developed and co-designed the communities. We interviewed dozens and dozens of architects, developers, bureaucrats and bankers. We looked at product; we learned Danish so that we could understand the process and partiality, the difference between a thoroughly capable process and a weak process.
True story: for three years my wife and I looked for a small town to call home. People thought we were crazy to leave Portland, Oregon where we had met, married, and gave birth to our precious son. The ever-growing popularity, the crowds, the traffic, the ever-escalating prices, the pace in Portland all motivated us.
Capitol Hill Urban Cohousing (CHUC) in Seattle, WA is finally edging up to its fourth floor in construction and just weeks away from setting the base for The Rooftop Farm project we have planned. We are talking about more than a few raised planters on the roof. We envision a working, year-round urban farm. We plan to work with the Seattle Urban Farm Company to setup our lower rooftop initially. The upper rooftop may be used for rainwater collection and routed to the farm. Eventually we hope to install photovoltaic solar panels on the upper rooftop.
I've been a group process consultant for 28 years. For the first 26 years most of my work was focused on weathering storms, or training groups in foul weather drills, so that they could better handle heavy seas themselves.
In the last 18 months, however, there's been something of a sea change. In addition to the crisis management work I've always gotten, I've been hired to help five different cohousing communities struggling with who they are, 12-20 years after move in. Plus I've gotten inquiries from a handful more who are thinking about hiring someone to help with reinvigoration, to reset their gyroscope. Apparently it's a trend.
Jamie Busch was the creator of our great 2015 National Cohousing Conference logo - an image that incorporated past tradition and new visioning! Jamie would welcome working with cohousing communities to design logos that reflect their values and vision, and I offered to introduce:
A friend of mine, Tree Bressen, recently pointed me in the direction of an article in Fast Company entitled: "How Krash And Other Startups Are Taking Coworking Home: It's called co-living, and it's all the rage." Leaving aside my reaction to the name "co-living" (did the originators think they'd invented the concept of shared housing?), the article explores a new urban phenomenon that's a variant on co-working—where people rent office space with many others, which makes the facilities more affordable for all (users are buying access to expensive office equipment and meeting space rather than owning it, plus they get the bonus of being in an active business environment, and they needn't pay for what they don't need or use. Co-living, as featured in the Fast Company article, takes that a step further, emphasizing the connections and creative sparks possible when you rub two or more entrepreneurs together.
Philip Dowds, Cornerstone Village Cohousing (Cambridge)
In response to this query on coho-l:
I am an owner at Pacific Gardens Cohousing Community in Nanaimo. One thing I am curious about, is the number of people who say they want to rent for awhile before deciding to buy a unit. They want to "try it out" and "see if it is a fit". As people can't commonly do this with houses and condos, or cohousing communities that don't have rentals, why do you think people assume they could or should try out cohousing before buying?
[Editor's Note: Sky Blue encourages members from cohousing communities to attend the Twin Oaks Communities Conference. Here Sky discusses terminology: why does it matter? and highlights the relationship of FIC and Coho/US as a success story in inter-organizational cooperation]
Cohousing was one of my first introductions to collective living and the world of Intentional Communities. My father helped found Valley Oaks Village, in Chico, CA, in the mid-90’s. He and I moved into his unit in 1996, when I was 16, and I lived there for a year before I moved out on my own....My path then took me to a student housing cooperative and then to Twin Oaks, and I’m grateful for the perspective each of these communities gave me....Is Cohousing a form of intentional community? The term Intentional Community was in use before Cohousing, and describes a broader range of models than most people realize. But Cohousing describes a particular, innovative model developed fairly recently. By contrast, the term Housing Co-operative has been in use in the US since at least the early 1900’s, pre-dating the term Intentional Community....