An acquaintance of mine, Chris Zimmerman, owns and operates a couple of assisted-care facilities in Alameda, California. He inherited one at age 23 and subsequently built a second one. He’s now 60, and despite the limitations of an assisted care environment, he has developed astute theories about seniors and elders.
Like many observers of the cultural scene, he agrees that seniors today are given little respect, but he also believes that they have to earn the respect that they’d like to command. He argues that seniors have abdicated their role as respected elders. Being an elder once meant earning respect by playing an active role in teaching younger generations, a role that’s seldom fulfilled today. He believes that seniors earn elderhood by helping younger generations understand how to be accountable.
If you’re looking for a cohousing core group or existing community to join, you’re probably thinking about what you want. You may also be considering what personal characteristics tend to lead to enjoying —even thriving — in cohousing.
Cohousing is a hoot – it really is. When I walk onto the site after a hard day at work and chat with a couple of the 37 kids, or see cutie one-year-old August smiling in his mother’s arms, well, it makes my life worth living. When I walk into the common house an hour before dinner, and Dyann and Frank tell me they can easily accommodate my Danish guests (who fed us seven nights a week when we stayed in their cohousing), sometimes it seems just like one long party.
Fostermamas (see blog entry below) also mentioned that their family is multi-generational and multiracial. And on June 27th, Annette wrote a blog response, "Regarding ethnic diversity, what are the statistics?"
The best size and number of households seems to be one of the big challenges facing cohousing in America. Cohousing communities in Europe have shown over and again that the optimum size is not too big and not too small.
Create a community that is too big and an institutional feel and sensibility will result. Create a community that is too small, and it will become more like a large family, not a neighborhood of actively engaged households.