Alice Alexander's blog

Access to Financing & Affordable Models of Cohousing

In our quest to expand cohousing, Coho/US has long recognized two major challenges: (1) accessing financing and (2) creating more affordable models. This month, Coho/US made headway in addressing both, establishing a formal collaboration with Partnerships for Affordable Cohousing. Pooling our reach, credibility and knowledge will bolster our mutual efforts to develop and promote strategies to broaden access and affordability.
The impetus for collaboration is the development of a loan program, to increase access to financing for construction and expansion of cohousing communities. A loan program also provides the opportunity for individuals, foundations and public funding sources to invest in cohousing and promote our housing model. We have been in conversations since last fall with the National Cooperative Bank, a potential financial partner in this endeavor, and we may consider collaborating with foundations whose goals of sustainable communities mirror ours.

Facilitation Trainings on Tap

[Editor's note - come to Laird Schaub's Facilitation & Leadership intensive at the National Cohousing Conference http://www.cohousing.org/2015/intensives]

A year ago I had breakfast with a friend in Michigan who had participated in my two-year facilitation training back in 2005-07, and she shared a story about how my program helped her professionally. She applied for a job in a large city that would require her to bring together various stakeholders who were not used to talking with each to make common cause. That meant setting up and running effective meetings, building trust to where people shared openly, and then assisting them to come to a united understanding despite substantive cultural and political differences. After wending her way through the application and interview process she became a finalist for the position.

Amazing Intensives at the National Cohousing Conference

In addition to a full range of sessions at the National Cohousing Conference, we are offering 1/2 day and full day "intensives" on specialized topics presented by cohousing experts. You can sign up for these separately, or in addition to registration.
Visit www.cohousing.org/2015conference or download the program at www.cohousing.org/2015/program
Consider these awesome offerings from our Cohousing Rockstars:

Creating More Affordability in Your Community: A Selection of Ideas

You’re probably tired of hearing about smaller units, standardization, simple unit plans, modest finishes, all with the goal of achieving more affordability. Well it’s true, these all help, but there are other affordability strategies that are based on interpersonal relationships, community, and trust, that can be just as effective, if not more so. The strategies outlined in the series to follow have been collected over the past 25 years of doing cohousing projects across the US and Canada. Many of the strategies outlined below are what I call “internal banking.” These internal banking relationships are magical when they happen, and it would seem they can only happen when there is a strong sense of community, and trust.

Urban Cohousing - Best Positioned to Meet our Aspirations?

Last month, my Durham Coho hosted a visit by graduate students enrolled in an Urban Cohousing Design Studio at NC State College of Design. Tom Barrie, a Professor of Architecture and Director of the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Initiative, was inspired by the National Cohousing Conference, and offered to provide this design studio, and present results at the Conference.
In Tom’s course syllabus, he outlines “this studio will equally research, design and critique this unique form of housing with the goal of critically examining its predominant characteristics and promises, and insightfully and comprehensively designing new expressions and materializations. We will focus on urban cohousing as a type and location that may be best positioned to satisfy the aspirations of this alternative housing.”
Intrigued? Come hear and see more at the conference.
Urban Co-Housing | Affordable, Adaptable and Sustainable
http://www.cohousing.org/2015/sessions

Who's Coming to the National Conference?

We’re smiling at the numbers so far: 223 folks have registered for the National Cohousing Conference. That’s more than expected at this time. Our aspirational goal is 400; we conservatively budgeted for 325. So we are in good shape!
Where are folks coming from? Registrations have poured from all over the country - 31 states so far - as well as Canada, Australia, and even South Korea.

The Future of Cohousing: The Next Generation

In 2014, my home community, Pioneer Valley Cohousing in Amherst Massachusetts, celebrated our 20th anniversary. A number of big changes here got me wondering - what comes next for my family, my community, and the national cohousing movement? When it came time to think about a theme for our conference, “the next generation” came to me immediately.

The first generation of cohousing has been a success! Research conducted by Coho/US in 2011 confirmed our anecdotal evidence that cohousing is good for children, parents, singles, seniors, the neighborhoods around them, and the environment. We proved the model works, though we stalled (along with the rest of the housing industry) during the recession. Groups are starting up again, but it is time to think about how to advance the movement within a new context. Demographics are changing rapidly with boomers reaching retirement and young adults less inclined or able to enter the home ownership market – all within an ominous backdrop of climate change and uncertainty.

Money in Community

With this entry I'm plowing new ground: for the first time, I'm posting an essay written by a guest author. In this case, Beth Raps, who lives in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia where she operates her business, Raising Clarity: to cultivate abundance in noble causes, people, and organizations.
I first met Beth last October in the context of FIC's search for a new Development Director, which she has been helping us think about more clearly.
As both of us have an abiding interest in sustainable economics, we've been in dialog about right relationship to money, and this essay is the fruit of that conversation. I hope you enjoy it half as much as Beth and I did crafting it.

Coping with Record Snow at Mosaic Commons in Central Mass

In response to a "how are you coping out there with snow and cold temps," Diana Carroll at Mosaic Commons in Central Massachusetts, where they've gotton more snow than anytime in recorded history, writes:

Well, logistically it has been quite challenging, of course. Our snow plow company has been working absurdly hard to keep us excavated but we've pretty much run out of places to put the snow...and the cars and everything else.

NPR Morning Edition 2-16-15: Europe Experiments with Cohousing

Please comment on this NPR story profiling cohousing in England and Spain:
http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2015/02/16/385528919/not-a-group-hous...
The online story has more depth than the audio.
Share a bit of YOUR experience with cohousing here in the US, and please mention www.cohousing.org for more info.
Many thanks!

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