Living in Cohousing

Mosaic Commons swingset, courtesy Diana CarrollCohousing residents like to describe their communities as “intentional neighborhoods.” The underlying desire is to have a strong sense of community with your neighbors.

Who are your neighbors

The majority of cohousing communities in the United States comprise 20 to 40 units, with other ranging from 7 to 67 homes. Cohousing attracts a wide range of household types: single people of all ages; couples; families and single parents of infants, toddlers, and school-aged children; couples whose children are grown; and retirees.

Some cohousing communities create a shared vision or ethic, but residents typically represent a variety of religious and spiritual backgrounds. Cohousing residents often want to make a difference, which can become a stated mission. Many cohousing community websites demonstrate their commitment to improving the community and the world. For example, at Sunward Cohousing near Ann Arbor, MI, the goal is to create a place “where lives are simplified, the earth is respected, diversity is welcomed, children play together in safety, and living in community with neighbors comes naturally.” Sonora Cohousing in Tucson, AZ, seeks “a diversity of backgrounds, ages and opinions, with our one shared value being the commitment to working out our problems and finding consensus solutions that satisfy all members.” Tierra Nueva Cohousing in Oceano, CA, exists “because each of us desires a greater sense of community, as well as strong interaction with and support from our neighbors.”

Is there a participation requirement

Participation ebbs and flows among individual members as their personal lives allow them to contribute more time or less time to the community. There needs to be a mutual trust among members that everyone is doing what they can at any given time. A minimum level of participation generally includes cleaning the common house or maintaining the commonly owned grounds. Participation is dependent upon the community’s needs.

What about conflict

Conflict happens. One of cohousing’s greatest strengths is the assumption that members can work out their disagreements. Most cohousing communities use consensus decision-making, which tends to satisfy most residents and give them a sense of participation on challenging issues. Some communities convene a conflict-resolution team when a particularly hot issue arises.

Because many cohousing residents are seeking a collaborative and cooperative environment, disagreements are often worked out to the satisfaction of all involved. Cohousing residents share the common goal of making their lives more enjoyable by cooperating with their neighbors.

Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) welcomes guests to a Casablanca party at Doyle Street Cohousing in Emeryville, CA. (Photo by Evangeline Welch) Editor's note: This list first appeared in our Fall...
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A poignant and humorous description of a teenager living in community.
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The temptation to use technology to make life more convenient, more practical, or just jazzier – whatever the cost – is always with us. In our Nevada City cohousing community, we adopted online...
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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...
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Perhaps your cohousing community is located in reasonable proximity to others, so that a multi community tour would be feasible. But wherever your community is located (close to or far from other...
Tags: Tours, Tags: Marketing
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Here is a great and really versatile recipe from Linda Parsons of Bartimaeus Cohousing (Seattle, WA). It is so simple to make and easy to increase or decrease for different-sized groups. The recipe...
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Here are a couple of great recipes from Bonnie Fergusson. Bonnie, 64, works in the lab at the Haight-Ashbury Free Medical Clinic in San Francisco. She lives with her husband Stephen, a technical...
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Liz with her Moroccan Chicken My birthday is May first and last year we had a big Moroccan belly dancing party for all the girls and women in our community. It is in that spirit that I present...
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Lynne McGee This recipe is a hearty winter pasta. It's not vegetarian, wheat-free, or dairy-free, but it sure is good. I asked Lynne McGee if I could use it for the column because it is a favorite...
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A Veggie Dish Even the Kids Will Love Here is a recipe from Douglas Larson, a single dad who has lived at Songaia for seven years now. He enjoys working in Songaia’s expansive garden. He has an...
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Sandy, our new food editor, with her daughter and friends I am excited about the prospect of creating a way for communities to share recipes and ideas for making common meals fun and easy. This...
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This month I thought I would focus on “giving thanks.” I would love to hear from other communities about how they give thanks before meals or on other occasions. So if you have a nice blessing that...
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Dinner at Ecovillage at Ithaca My plan with this column is to feature recipes from cohousing communities around the world to create a cookbook we can all use, with the proceeds going to the...
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An old collection to which we'd love to see new additions! Contact us
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A common meal at Swan’s Market Cohousing This month I’m featuring a recipe, Yummy Tofu Salad, from a California cohousing community. This one is from Joani Blank at Swan's Market Cohousing in...
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One of Heartwood’s younger contingents enjoys a spring brunch outdoors. I want to thank those of you who have sent me recipes. I really appreciate it and will try to use them in future articles. I...
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Mary’s Sesame Noodles was a hit at a recent Friday night potluck. This month I have a great sesame noodle recipe that can be served hot, warm or cold. It’s easy, inexpensive and a whole meal by...
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This recipe was submitted by a woman with a dream of creating cohousing, and I would like to dedicate it to all those out there working to make that happen. Here are a few maxims about creating...
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Here is a recipe from Ronnie Rosenbaum who is an original member of Harmony Village and was involved in the early planning for that cohousing community in Golden, CO. When she moved in 11 years ago,...
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In the summer here at Heartwood, common meals become more casual. Lots of people come and go on trips, so spontaneous gatherings often occur to welcome home weary travelers. The grill gets fired up,...
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What makes cohousing unique is that residents take an active role in determining what kind of a place they’ll live in, like many people did before the age of mass-produced housing. Cohousing is “...
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The idea for this book was born in typical cohousing fashion—with one cohousing resident helping another. Diane de Simone, a lively soul from Sonora Cohousing in Tucson, knew I was interested in...
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Special thanks to the many contributors in this book, who wrote and rewrote their stories and put up with my endless requests for more pictures; and to the staff at Fulcrum Publishing, who saw the...
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Edited by David Wann Text and illustrations copyright © 2005 David Wann, unless otherwise noted All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system,...
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While community living is not a new phenomenon, one must acknowledge that with the success of cohousing, the idea is being spread for the first time on a global scale. If globalization tends to...
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I used to have contingency plans for where I wanted to live in another five years. For a while, it was New Zealand, then upstate New York, then a small town in western Colorado that doesn’t feel the...
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