At Pine Street, a cohousing dream long in the making became a reality in the summer of 1994. Eight households (which expanded to ten in autumn of 2003) comprising a mix of ages, interests, family configurations and professions came together to build a shared community. Our families reside in duplex units clustered along a common driveway, set in the middle of a seven-acre parcel. The site is surrounded by preserved agricultural land, currently being farmed by Simple Gifts, an organic CSA operation. We are situated directly across from town conservation land, close to Mill River Recreation Area, the North Amherst Library, the golf course/ski area at Cherry Hill, and swimming at Puffers Pond. The PVTA bus stops at the end of the street.
The size of our community presents unique advantage as well as challenge, especially in comparison to other cohousing groups, which are typically several times larger. Our small scale enables a relatively relaxed and manageable climate for working together, for setting common goals and agenda and for getting to know and care about what’s important to each member. Because we are few in number, a greater level of individual compatibility and commitment is required if we are to really accomplish our objectives and, in the process, honor our obligations to each other and to the community.
It has been said that, “the cohousing concept reestablishes many of the advantages of traditional villages within the context of 21st century life.” In our “village” there is a shared garden space, a small orchard, and a tool and storage shed. We enjoy coming together for both purpose and pleasure. There are potluck suppers, community workdays, monthly meetings modeled on consensus, and periodic celebrations involving music, dance and theater.
Children enjoy shared use of a tree house, fields for romping in and playing ball and a slope for sledding. We are dedicated to creating a relaxed, uncongested atmosphere around our cluster of homes. Our wish is to create a largely pedestrian feel within the community.
While enjoying the benefits of community living, shared resources, and common facilities, it is also important to us that members be able to maintain a comfortable level of individual autonomy and privacy. Each home has its own surrounding area of yard for personal use that can be landscaped or gardened in whatever way is desired. Getting to know and respect our neighbors as individuals is vital to the group process.
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