Leaders of cohousing over the years gather to discuss its past, its future, its successes and its challenges. They will share their experiences in guiding cohousing by discussing challenges, telling stories, taking questions from the audience, and thinking together about the future of cohousing.
There are many existing cohousing neighborhoods that collaboratively facilitate aging-in-place for residents with decreasing mobility function and increasing physical needs. Many residents, however, still need to vacate the cohousing community at some point. What if, instead of the resident moving, the unit ‘moves’? Can we design a cohousing building complex that morphs into an assisted living community, incrementally, over time, and with minimal residential and neighborhood disruption? This session will share 10 new prototypes for cohousing communities that flex to accommodate aging seniors throughout the life span. Participants are encouraged to bring site and floor plans for discussion and review.
This session is for communities interested in issues of aging in intergenerational cohousing. David Entin will provide information about the AGOG (Actively Growing Older Gracefully) group in Rocky Hill Cohousing, Northampton, MA. AGOG consists of about 15 active members between their 60’s and 80’s who have been meeting monthly for seven years. We have discussed many topics on aging, met with local elder care agencies, read relevant books, and bonded through intimate sharing. David wants to invite other cohousing communities addressing aging issues to join him in this session to share what they are doing. If you are able to contribute to this session, please contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join Cynthia for a global tour of ecovillages, co-living spaces, communes, spiritual communities, housing cooperatives, tiny house villages, and of course, cohousing communities! This presentation will include many of the over one hundred intentional communities Cynthia has visited worldwide, including captivating photos and personal stories. Gain perspective on the societal contribution of intentional communities, especially in the midst of a loneliness epidemic, as well as the unique role cohousing can play within the larger communities movement. Leave with a hearty dose of inspiration and practical resources for better understanding intentional communities.
If you are a BIPOC attendee, please join this caucus to explore what it means to be BIPOC in cohousing. Types of questions panelists will discuss include:
•What drew you to cohousing?
•What about cohousing makes others of your background question this lifestyle choice?
•Describe a time in cohousing that you were faced with racist/biased ideology.
•When do you not feel heard/supported in community?
•Do you feel that you had to give up your cultural identity? Or was it welcomed in your community? and in what way did the welcoming manifest itself?
THIS SESSION IS EXCLUSIVELY FOR BIPOC ATTENDEES
This session will present our experiences building a cohousing community step-by-step and answer questions along the way. We will walk through the exploration phase of finding and securing a site, the feasibility phase of determining septic capacity, environmental issues, and zoning. These led to a design phase, where we chose architecture and construction firms with which to work. We then recruited more members through local presentations and the CohoUS website. Finally, we hired an experienced cohousing facilitator to answer our questions and provide guidance. We began construction in 2016, and were fully occupied in 2018 with 14 homes and a common house.
The formal sharing of cars in cohousing is a new and hot topic for forming and mature communities alike. We will identify the many benefits of car sharing including environmental, economic, space efficiency, vehicle diversity, and relationship building. We will focus on the steps needed to establish and maintain a car share: finding participants, legal structures, ownership, insurance, budgeting, maintenance, calendars, and billing. Ample time will be left for questions.
Cohousing provides the opportunity to support the needs of all residents through community support and demands an architecture that reflects these values. Cathedral Park cohousing is founded on the concept that inclusive and diverse communities are stronger communities. Because a house alone does not make a home we embrace different backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences that contribute to strong, healthy, and sustainable communities. We believe that good design should accommodate all user needs. Join us to walk through the process and design and learn how we've created a space that anyone can call home.
Community by community, cohousers envision a new kind of living environment, and put in the hard work to bring it about. We learn to care about, and care for, the shared home of our cohousing neighborhood beyond our individual homes. What if we considered all human and other-than-human life as our neighbors, and all of earth as our shared home? Cohousing is already part of the paradigm shift required to live a more connected and sustainable life. Imagine if we applied those same skills that we learnt creating cohousing to envision a just and sustainable life for all, and become active citizens to help regenerate a flourishing living planet.
In this session, Charles will outline the most important features of creating and maintaining a successful and high functioning cohousing neighborhood. Using his new book, Community Enhanced Design: Cohousing and Other High Functioning Neighborhoods as a foundation, he will discuss cohousing design. He will address building community, how to create cohousing and some of the many elements learned through the last 30 years of being a cohousing Architect. He will also provide the most important features of getting established and staying successful leading up to getting your community built.
The Community Living Team or ‘party planners’ are a vital part of a healthy community. This session will talk about the goal of this team, what skills are helpful to have in people on the team to fill various roles, and how to create a vision and a plan to carry it out. Examples of various events will be presented with varying levels of detail. Then, for fun and action, we will break into small groups for brainstorming and begin to create possibilities to present to your own community!
Not quite up for starting a community? Fast track your community dream by joining an existing cohousing or other form of intentional community. Not sure which one is right for you? Get advice from the “community matchmaker.” Cynthia has helped hundreds find more connection, belonging, and purpose in life through community living. She’ll walk you through a step-by-step process of researching, contacting, visiting, and ultimately deciding on a community to move into. Get guidance for how to ensure you end up in the place that’s right for you.
Hear about what's happening now in the movement and how it can inform your community’s development; from Passive House to Living Building Challenge. We'll talk through the basic strategies of sustainability as they relate to your forming community, explain all of the various rating systems like LEED, LBC, or Passive House, and look at case studies of completed projects. Expect a lot of dialog as well as a detailed presentation.
Consensus, in one form or another, is the most common form of decision-making in intentional community. Unfortunately, it’s an unnatural act. While it’s an excellent fit for operating cooperatively—which is what everyone has in mind when they start or join a community—that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to do well. In this workshop I’ll explain its potential, the essential elements needed to build a solid foundation, and the cultivation needed for the seeds to bear the fruit you intend. I’ll also cover the different flavors of consensus and the pros and cons of each.
There is debate in many communities about whether consensus or sociocracy works best. In this session Karen will propose that the two are more alike than different. She will give a brief overview of the differences between the two structures and then focus on the community culture that is needed to support either. Much of this session will be reserved for participants’ questions on the topic.
This session will provide tips and tools to improve your community’s decision making process so that you can have satisfying and productive meetings. We will explore:
· Ways to spark creativity to determine the best solution for the whole community.
· The importance of leaving the competitive world outside, and operate from a “We” world.
· The importance of skilled facilitation and the role of members.
· When someone may be obligated to dissent.
· The role of the community when someone blocks or dissents.
The session will include role playing, so bring your acting skills!
Cooperatives have a rich history in the landscape of the community housing movement. This session will explore different types of cooperative housing, provide examples of co-ownership as a means to create small-scale communities, and showcase existing cohousing communities that are integrating cooperatives into their plans. As the cost of housing rises, more people are seeking out shared housing as a way to increase affordability and create more inclusive, diverse communities. Join us for an interactive conversation designed to spark creative solutions around shared resources and community housing.
Cohousing is about community, but what does that really mean? As we build and maintain our homes, we also need to construct and nurture our relationships with each other. In this session, we will establish a space to reflect about what it means to create and maintain a sense of community as we live together in cohousing. We will co-create some common ideas about why we believe it is important, and develop working definitions of “sense of community”. Leave with some information, renewed focus and language in which to deepen engagement, belonging, and connection in your cohousing community.
This session will outline the progress and future plans for a model that combines worker-owned businesses and cohousing-based home ownership in Just Transition communities. Learn about the Irresistible Community Enterprises (ICE) that will include both nonprofit and for-profit worker-owned cooperative businesses, creating a model for carbon negative ecovillages focused on reconciliation and regeneration in the St. Louis region. This will open up access to a variety of resources that are typically siloed into either commercial or residential activities. We believe that working together as much as possible will provide many synergies and efficiencies that are not typically available.
Katie will review key aspects of the 500 Communities Program, a 12-month course designed to train collaborators to meet the expanding need for professional support in creating new cohousing communities. The program includes developers, project managers, marketing, sales and process professionals. Its intention is not to teach one model of cohousing, but to build on the lessons learned as we explore models of collaborative development not taught in university or trade school.
Using three recent urban cohousing communities as case studies, the audience will gain an understanding of how the intentional actions of individuals acting in consensus of the group successfully created a resilient urban community and new home. Comparing and contrasting the three different paths through urban community building, planning, financing, and design the attendees will see the hurdles and successes of each project. The session is planned to be interactive with ample time for questions and discussion.
This presentation will focus on ways to work eﬀectively with design professionals to avoid added cost. It will also identify ways to aﬀordably design units from a space planning aspect to the selection of materials. Finally, it will ask the question, what elements of the process are anti-aﬀordable?
Katie has worked as an architect, project manager, development consultant, and developer with cohousing groups for the last 35 years. She will present how cohousing groups have gotten their projects built, outlining pluses and minuses of different development scenarios, using real case studies of past and current projects to help evaluate the best way for a community to move forward. She will answer such questions as: How do we actually get our project built? How have other groups done this? Should we self-develop? Do we need a developer? What do developers do, and do we find one? What other professionals do we need?
Is your community considering forming a diversity or anti-racism circle? Are you looking for ways to recruit more diverse members and improve the experience of marginalized people in your community? Join us to share your questions, concerns, and best practices for doing anti-oppression work in community. Whether your community is forming or established, or even if you are a seeker, you will be able to take away concrete action steps for creating a diverse community.
Living together in community means we make so many decisions that we inevitably disagree and get mad at each other. How we treat each other in disagreements is the difference between a community we love living in and one that has us wondering about moving out. In this experiential workshop we will use the approach of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) to practice the power of deeply listening to our needs and the needs of others so that we can find our loving voice and stay present and engaged in the chaos of daily life with each other. Let’s build communities we want to live in!
Greg Rosenberg will reflect as a cohousing project manager, highlighting areas of particular importance that can make or break a cohousing project, and drawing from two of Madison's cohousing projects -- Troy Gardens, and Linden Cohousing. Greg will go into detail on the critical aspects of cohousing development, including marketing , design, affordability, financing, making your cohousing group easy to partner with, the importance of putting together a solid development team, what to do if your group cannot self-finance your project, and striking a balance between building group cohesion and moving the project forward in a timely manner.
In the context of today’s housing crisis, how might we create affordable housing options that foster connection, support ecological regeneration and create economic wellbeing for all?
The Cohousing Association of the US was proud to feature Cooperative Hall of Fame Inductee, Anne Reynolds, as the keynote speaker for the opening night of the National Cohousing Conference.
The pandemic has been rough on cohousing communities. The range of technical abilities and familiarity with tools coupled with the lack of face-to-face contact has made it difficult for people to have meaningful discussions on difficult topics.
In this time together we will explore ways of being, relating and collaborating that can support people in nurturing and sustaining restorative relationships and culture in their everyday life, as well as in the presence of conflict as part of communal living. Gery and Bert will offer personal experiences of their ongoing journey of restorative practice while building on the work of transformative justice authors and practitioners, adrienne maree brown, Mia Mingus and Prentice Hemphill. Come ready to build a compass, deeper understanding and some foundational skills for your own restorative practice journey onward!
Construction costs get built into the project from the very beginning. Knowing how to avoid some of the common pitfalls can make the difference between moving in and abandoning a project. This session will look at ways to keep construction costs down by controlling the process from the onset and strategies for dealing with market forces.
The formation of a group is an exciting AND overwhelming time within the life of a community. Knowing what to expect helps. This session will provide an overview of the design process as well as the preparation in group process a community should take before the commencement of design.
If you’ve been keeping your interest list in a spreadsheet, on your newsletter email platform, or maybe even on pieces of paper, this session is a must for those focused on the marketing and recruitment of members. Efficiently managing and tracking the interaction with your contacts is key to successful recruitment. Doing so will also save you time and money. In this session, Shelly will demonstrate what a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system can do for your marketing and recruitment efforts, what to track, best practices and how you can easily set up a system yourself specifically for cohousing.
Are you completely new to sociocracy? We got you! In this overview session, you'll be able to get a quick overview of sociocracy, a governance system used by many existing and forming communities to improve decision-making. We'll focus on two main topics: (1) Who decides what? That's in circles and roles! (2) How do we decide? Consent decision-making!
We'll share examples from a real, sociocratic community, do a quick demo of a decision-making process, and give time to ask questions so you can evaluate whether sociocracy might be a suitable option for your group.
What lessons can we learn from French cohousing as we look toward the future?
In France, cohousing is often more-dense and urban than is typical in the United States. Retrofitting old buildings and giving them new life via cohousing is also common practice. This is partly due to its particular history, culture, and construction context, but also anticipates global trends of increasingly dense populations and desire for a smaller footprint.
What role do privilege, bias, and microaggressions play in creating an inclusive cohousing community? In this workshop, we'll define these terms and talk about the experiences of marginalized groups.
Founding members of urban-infill cohousing communities will deliberate the key issues they addressed as they worked to create urban cohousing communities. Panelists will answer questions related to their challenges and successes offering potential lessons to individuals interested in founding new urban cohousing communities. It will be interactive among the panel and among the participants. Questions will address the pressing issues facing urban cohousing communities. -- sustainability, diversity, economics, community engagement and professional support.
This session will discuss some of the economic justice challenges that come with building desirable places to live, and some of the methods to develop mixed-income cohousing. Cohousing, when not price-controlled, can easily become expensive to the point of being exclusionary. This session will highlight the need for price restrictions using resale formulas (eg. through a community land trust (CLT)) to ensure ongoing affordability, and discuss the steps to subsidize home prices and keep them affordable. Two contrasting examples of mixed-income cohousing in Madison will be featured: Troy Gardens (a project of Madison Area CLT) and Linden Cohousing.
Cohousing communities have an incredible opportunity to achieve climate solutions at scale, and it doesn't have to break the bank. This session dives into key strategies and how to optimize them for cost and impact. It will also share lessons learned from a Net Zero Energy cohousing case study: Bozeman Cohousing. If sustainability is part of your community's vision statement, then this session will help you achieve that goal.
Does your group struggle with questions about non-monetary member contributions to the well-being and maintenance of the community? If so, you are not alone! This topic is predictably a rat’s nest. In this workshop, I’ll lay out the inevitability of contributions being uneven, why this leads to tension, and how to navigate the swamp (or better yet, drain it). Further, I’ll offer a list of key questions to consider in developing a comprehensive understanding about Participation, and make the case for establishing a standing committee to work behind the scenes to lubricate the wheels.
Communities need policies (which may also be called agreements, guidelines, rules, etc.) to manage their sharing of space, time and money. However, the sorts of policies that support connected community relationships are likely different than the policies we've experienced in other living situations. In this session we'll use a lens of relationship to consider how concepts like fairness, enforcement, power, trust, delegation, and safety play out when applied through policy agreements in community.
Ponderosa Mobile Home Park is an interesting example of how to apply cohousing principles to an existing affordable and diverse community. The residents of Ponderosa received funding from the City of Boulder after they were hit by the 2013 floods. With an eye to community and sustainability, they decided to tackle energy consumption, reconstruction options, innovative financing, a partnership with Habitat for Humanity, shared amenities, LID principles, community engagement, and capacity building at the same time. Through community engagement, two defining characteristics emerged: rugged individualism and incredible mutual support. Hear how these folks were able to direct their community’s future.
Mid Atlantic Cohousing (MAC) is a regional organization dedicated to exploring the art of living in cohousing. Our 10 cohousing communities are spread throughout the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. In much the same way we pooled our experience, expertise and funding to build our individual communities, we pool our knowledge gained through experience to help beginning, building and built communities navigate the waters of living in cohousing. Regional organizations extend the reach of a national organization to reach communities one on one. This session will share the highlights and lowlights of organizing, maintaining and expanding a regional group that can help grow community for everyone.
Resales have you frowning? Turn frowns to smiles. Come learn how Takoma Village’s Resale & Rental POD Rebooted its marketing & outreach function attracting more educated & qualified cohousing prospects, Re-energized the community and Raised $120,000+ in voluntary contributions to the community.
Explore the benefits and challenges of senior cohousing and seniors living in cohousing and consider what your aging scenario might be. With a panel of seniors who are living in cohousing, we’ll investigate how ageism in our culture holds us back from living and aging well; how we handle giving and receiving help; what co-care is and isn’t; and why cohousing communities are good for our health. Get project development advice about issues such as marketing to new members, orienting members into existing communities, getting the work done among older residents, resales, and rituals for and/or managing departing members, living or who have passed away. This session is appropriate for seniors currently living in cohousing as well as those seeking to live in cohousing.
Shelly Parks and Lynn Morstead will describe the critical success factors that have transformed their cohousing marketing and sales results. From gathering contact information to transforming your entire membership into recruiters, learn about being more consistent, strategic and adaptable in cohousing sales and marketing. Leave with a checklist of a gap assessment to identify your needs.
Cohousing communities are typically general in orientation, and designed for anyone who wishes to live there. An exception to this is senior communities, but other types of specialized or affinity group cohousing are starting to emerge. This panel discussion will engage presenters who have experience in these efforts and communities -- such as those organized to support LGBT inclusion, Jewish life, neurodiversity, and people with varying abilities/disabilities. We anticipate a robust conversation, and attendee questions and contributions are highly encouraged!
Bad meetings aren't something to endure but something to change. This session will show the most common ways in which we get off track, and how to notice and get back on track again. Faster and more focused meetings rely on agenda planning, clearer framing of agenda items, accountability to our agreed-upon goals and topics, and straightforward decision-making processes. This session will highlight what we can do before, during and after a meeting to use our time together wisely. After all, we move into communities because we want to be and feel connected - let's have meetings that feel connecting!
The Cohousing Research Network is investigating the question, “Does cohousing have the potential to be a beneficial housing option for a wider range of people in the U.S. than is currently the case?” The survey will delve into psychological, social, economic, health, democratic-citizenship, and environmental effects, organized processes and informal activities and behaviors found in cohousing. This session includes a presentation of initial findings from the first stage of the survey. Second, there will be question-and-answer and general discussion segments relating to the survey findings and potential interpretations, which are likely to result in helpful feedback to inform subsequent phases of the panel survey.
A fun and perhaps irreverent look at the United States’ obsession with creating Utopian Communities. We will look at the many forms that the desire to live in community has evolved over time - from Pilgrims to corporate Utopias like Disney's Epicot. Did you know that without the Shakers you'd still be buying sacks of seeds for your garden? The common link between these communities is not political, but a uniquely American desire to make the world better (or worse). We just aren't satisfied with the world around us and are forever searching for Utopia.
Gainesville Cohousing is fairly new, so we have a lot of projects each year. In 2021, the initial project requests totaled $19,000. In the beginning, decisions on what to fund were fairly easy because we came in under budget when building. As those funds dwindled and project fund requests continued, we implemented a project planning and budgeting process for each of our community groups to encourage them to set goals and focus their work. This session will examine our approach to formulating an annual budget, and the process used to gain community approval and increase awareness of how money is spent.
This session will provide a look at how a fairly new community uses Mosaic web modules, designed by Sean Davey of Sonora Cohousing, to stay informed, get organized, store documents, manage committee membership lists, run common meals program (including billing), manage workshare, track visitor parking spots, log community equipment, schedule tasks or notify community when one is out of town, share recipes, and more. We will have plenty of time for questions, and to talk challenges with communications and technology in cohousing communities.
For years Wild Sage Cohousing Community barely had any turnover, then we began to see some change but were able to welcome new community members with dinner, an orientation, and a point person they could ask questions of. As we evolved and had a few less members with institutional knowledge we saw a need for a new process including some remote access and the conscious accommodation of various learning methods. And thus the new New Community Member Orientation program was created.
Cohousing communities can sometimes encounter especially challenging behaviors, which can negatively affect other community members, and sometimes even affect the whole community. We can learn much more about these behaviors, lower our expectations, set limits and boundaries, AND still keep an open heart with compassion and understanding for people who do the challenging behaviors. This session explores what to expect, what NOT to do, and what can work effectively to help people feel safer and more peaceful in their communities. Includes a link my magazine articles on the topic and recommended books, videos, and even movies on these challenging behaviors.
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