Anne Geraghty, Washington House (West Sacramento CA)
We know that our vision and our values, whether fully articulated or unconscious, have a powerful influence on the direction of our lives. In a cohousing project such as this, the careful articulation of our mutual vision and values will lead us to the kind of community we're seeking. It will set the stage for all the work that follows. It will guide us as we work with our architects and developers. It's a coming together, a forging together, building the beginning of our community.
This Wired Magazine article recently published, Want to Survive Climate Change? You’ll Need a Good Community (authored by Eric Klineberg), underscores what we already know: that good neighbors and a resilient community can make all the difference in maintaining us through crisis.
Remember the blistering heat of 1995 that killed hundreds of people in Chicago? Statistical models were at a loss as to explain the high death toll. Although Chicago's aging infrastructure failed the entire city, it didn't explain the "patchwork death toll." Why did some neighborhoods fare better than others? Turns out, "social infrastructure" was the most important variable to explain the pattern of mortality.
David Entin, Rocky Hill Cohousing (Northampton, MA)
Approximately seventy-five cohousers, researchers, aspiring cohousers, and graduate students attended a symposium on elder cohousing research in Wilmington, North Carolina, on October 27, sponsored by the College of Health and Human Services of the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and AARP. Among the presenters were Alice Alexander, Executive Director of the Cohousing Association of the US, and Angela Sanguinetti, Director of the Cohousing Research Network.
....What if the typical characteristics of cohousing were applied to an urban community consisting of not only housing but a mix of businesses and public uses?
A small group of cohousing, mixed use visionaries, including myself have started a 20 acre project on the urban fringe of Cheyenne, Wyoming called the Lincoln Court. We’re laying cohousing approaches over a high density, mixed use community anchored by a city owned and operated indoor ice rink and a proposed indoor sports complex. It’s a grassroots project that will come about as a result of a high degree of consensus among the future community denizens:
"We evolved to live in community, and that seems to be the scale where we can best navigate the complexities of life-experiences of people not like us, the fragility and resilience of the web of life that surrounds us. When we live connected to a community, we are more likely to become champions for one another, not just for ourselves. It's a small step from there to becoming advocates for the larger community, even for the community of all life. From there, the idea of the common good is not so hard to grasp."
Nuturing Cohousing Communities to Help Them Thrive is one of three core areas of the Coho/US strategic plan. We offer abundant resources on our website, and encourage communities to search for successful practices on work share, meal participation, marketing, whatever. Also, see "New Resources" in each issue of Cohousing Now! eNews (bottom, right column). Offerings this month:
Recently I was conducting a facilitation training with co-trainer María Stawsky The weekends run from Friday morning through Sunday afternoon and are a mix of presenting material, answering questions, conducting practice exercises, and facilitating live meetings. That said, we emphasize the last approach above all others: devoting three-fourths of every weekend to having students prepare for, deliver, and evaluate the facilitation of real meetings—on the pedagogical theory that people tend to learn faster and more deeply if they're facing live ammunition.
Last month on Cohousing-L, a timely topic was sparked by the sharing of Courtney Martin's excellent New York Times article mentioning cohousing, Modern Housing with Village Virtues. How do cohousers get journalists to care about the topic? To really put in the research and get the facts right? To ensure the human element is carried through in quotable, relatable stories?