Cohousing Development: Perennial Potlucks or a Land Development Project?

Mike Ortosky, a founder of Earthwise Company, will be our Keynote Speaker at the National Cohousing Conference May 28-31 in Durham, NC. Mike and his associates are committed to initiatives that are based in the principles of environmental and economic sustainability and social equity. Mike shared these ideas with us recently:

There are two possible approaches to building a cohousing community: focus on land development process first, and community development second. Or, focus on community development first, and land development processes second.

Historically, many cohousing communities did the latter. A group with burning passion for community gather and discuss how it would be to live in a vibrant, supportive community and begin the journey to build something together. Then, 5 years and 60 potlucks later, they find a piece of land. At that point, two-thirds of the members determine that the location, or the finances, or the logistics of development don’t suit them and leave the group.

The other approach is to focus on land development, find land, and start the process of development – and then focus on membership and community development.

The actual land development and building process is somewhat mundane – it’s a procedure of finding, buying, and developing land. As Mike Ortosky of Earthwise Company says, “Building cohousing is about development – whether done by an outside developer or by a group-run development company. Development is about management, and management is about structure and process.”

In his keynote speech at the 2015 National Cohousing Conference, Mike will discuss the realities of addressing the financial and physical requirements of building a place where the community can move in, grow and thrive.

Mike is a landscape architect and soil scientist with over 30 years of experience in the areas of soil and landscape evaluation, site planning and design. He is committed to utilizing that experience to develop sustainable, mindful communities.

Mike will also discuss the new trends in New Agrarianism and New Urbansim as they relate to cohousing development, providing “war stories” of developing cohousing based on sound management principles.

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