What is a Common House For?
This question was posted recently to the cohousing listserv. As usual there were many great responses. A couple of those seemed useful, so we have gathered them here.
Raines Cohen offered is take on concepts around the deeper “why” of a Common House:
- Because through sharing space and resources and time together, we can live longer, happier lives (per research), live in smaller, more efficient homes that cost less and use less energy.
- Because we value spending time together and want to make it easy to do so.
- Because it is easier for us all to have a meal together in a space with a kitchen and dining areas designed for the group.
- Because we don’t want to all have extra guest rooms in our homes.
- Because we don’t want to all have extra dining rooms for large groups in our homes.
- Because we don’t want to all have workshops/tool rooms in our homes.
- Because we don’t want to all have workout/exercise rooms in our homes.
- Because we don’t want to all have laundry machines in our homes.
- Because we don’t want to all be isolated all the time, especially as we age, kids move out, etc.
- Because it is fun to be around other people and enjoy their company.
- Because it is great to be able to work a little on a puzzle, either together or one at a time.
- Because we need somewhere to put the bike parking.
Sharon Villines adds:
- It’s nice to have neutral ground to have meetings in. (Some people with whom I am having a tiff with, I prefer not to go to their homes. And meetings on conflict that easily avoid the issue are harder to keep on-topic when someone insists on serving tea and cookies.)
- It’s nice to have a place where we can meet without cleaning house first.
- More spontaneous interaction as people wander through. (I used to go down and work on the puzzle at 5:30 because almost everyone came through for the next hour.)
- Nice to get together where children can play. Not everyone’s home has things that are interesting to children.
- More extensive resources in a central location where everyone can use them. Our workshop tools are much more extensive than I would ever have at home, even if I had a big house.
Another question people ask is “What do you put in common house storage?”
(Also from Sharon)
- Cleaning equipment for each area of the CH so people will clean up after themselves.
- We are looking for a place to store a new batch of ping pong balls and paddles.
- Puzzles, games, cookbooks.
- Everyone who uses the laundry room regularly keeps a bottle of detergent on a shelf. 12-15 big bottles or boxes.
- Cubbies large enough to leave a pair of slippers or a mug or a sweater is very nice. Ours will only hold a few flyers or flat things.
- Storage for occasionally used things like enough vases and candles for each table. Table decorations & birthday celebration stuff.
- Big jars for recycling everything small — batteries, discs, magic markers, eyeglasses, etc.
- Pens, pencils, magic markers, stick pins, note paper, 2-3 kinds of tape. A gong to bring meetings to order.
- Boxes and boxes of tea — they breed.
- Several coffee makers for large meals.
- Linens for the guest rooms.
- Office equipment including paper cutter, paper, printer, computer, etc.
- Teenager’s video games.
- Videos and old VCR tapes.
- Musical instruments in fairly workable condition for play.
- Food that wasn’t picked up from the CSA drop off or when someone’s refrigerator dies.
- Projector to project images from a laptop.
And finally, Sharon offers a sample of common house reservations for one week at Takoma Village Cohousing:
MON 6:45 – 8:00 Bring Your Own Dinner (BYOD)/DR
MON 8:00 – 9:30 TVC Board of Directors/LR
TUE 8:00 – 9:30 TVC Women’s Tea & Talk/LR
WED 7:00 – 9:00 Decks/Balconies/Stairs Discussion/LR
WED 8:00 – 9:00 Book Group/FP
THU 6:00 – 7:30 Kids’ Meal/DR
THU 7:30 – 9:30 Community Team/LR
FRI 4:00 – 11:45 Z’s Private Event/DR+LR
FRI 6:30 -12:00 V’s Social/#101
SAT ALL DAY Z’s Private Event/DR+LR
SUN 6:00 – 4:45 Z’s Private Event/DR+LR
SUN 7:00 -10:00 Farewell Wine & Cheese/PZ
It’s no wonder people aren’t sure what a common house is used for when they is used for so many things. In the end, there is no limit to the possible uses of a common house. A well designed common house does all these things, and one more – it enables the creativity of each member of a community and the hive mind of them all!
Category: Common House Design