Journey to Ahhh…Part 4

Homes not Housing: Creating Community for all

What does “home” mean to you? Is it a feeling? A place to put your belongings or lay your head? Is it being around family, loved ones, and friends? Is it about having a choice or personal control over where you live and who you live with?

Our answers to these questions are why many of us seek cohousing. Home is a very personal thing. It can be the enjoyment and security of having people around us that know us and care about our wellbeing, having our familiars around us to share stories, soup and a “hello” across the courtyard. It can also be having the opportunity to share our individual strengths and gifts that make our community as a whole stronger, while receiving the feelings of belonging and welcome that our community gives to us. 

For many of us, this reciprocity and choice isn’t available. Our community members that are aging, have a lower income, or experience disability often are forced, by the lack of other viable choices, to live in housing developments focused around deficits and needs, rather than the gifts and strengths that we all contain. Too often “housing solutions” for target populations focus only on safety, services, and accessibility—built around a shared set of deficits—and consider contribution and community as an afterthought.

The cohousing model provides an ideal structure of reciprocity and interdependence for all of us. If you have been following our series of guest posts from the community of Our Home – Cathedral Park (OHCP) and our nonprofit sponsor, Our Home, Inclusive Community Collaborative (OHICC), you may have come across the tagline “Homes, not housing.” Inclusive and diverse communities are strong communities and at Our Home – Cathedral Park, we are building around the strengths, gifts and contributions of ALL our neighbors.

For this blog post, we talked with one of our anchor members Marie Blanchard asking her to delve into what living in a community like Our Home – Cathedral Park will mean to her, and what she will bring to the community. 

Here are Marie’s words: 

Home to me is a place of safety, with colorful walls, a comfortable bed, my favorite foods, and a big family or community around me. I am excited to move out of my childhood home and into Our Home – Cathedral Park because of the community. I am excited to have my own space, but also to be able to have friends nearby for support, or just to play a game or share a meal. Having neighbors around will keep me safe, and keep me connected. 

I am excited to live in a diverse community, where we will be able to enjoy each other’s differences. But at the same time, I am excited because I won’t be the only person in the community with a disability, and I won’t have to explain my cerebral palsy to everyone around me. But I also will be around non-disabled people, and will be able to share my journey and creativity with them. 

I love the location of OHCP, and look forward to being able to explore the neighborhood outside our community as well. It’s a new part of town for me, but it’s easy to get around, and I am excited to have neighbors to explore with. 

And what will I bring to the community? I am a very kind and empathetic person, with a lot of enthusiasm for having a good time. I love a good game night or dance party, and I am a ceramic artist and painter, and love to make beautiful things for people’s walls. I’m a hard worker and a connector, and I love to talk with new friends and old. I’ve had two Covid-era birthdays now, and I’m REALLY looking forward to a good party when we can all see each other again. 

*** 

We, the currently growing community of Our Home – Cathedral Park , believe that a diverse community is a strong community and are working to bring the organizational structure of cohousing together with the values of inclusion and reciprocity to expand the reach of cohousing. In our final blog post in this series, we’ll share more about our unique development LLC/nonprofit partnership, and our reasons for combining our desire to build a successful and sustainable community with the mission work of the nonprofit.

Category: Diversity

Tags: community, Diversity, living in cohousing

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