What Does Cohousing Have to Offer?

It was the last day of the 2011 National Cohousing Conference. Using the World Café Model, conference participants — made up of those who live in cohousing, those who want to live in cohousing, and those who had just heard of the concept — were seated around several tables in groups of 10 or so. One person volunteered the be the facilitator, another the time-keeper, and a third the note-taker. After brainstorming over and coming up with answers to a specific question, we scattered to completely different tables for the next round of brainstorming on a different topic. In this manner we tackled three important questions:

As a world community, as a nation, and in our local communities, we face significant environmental, economic and social challenges.

  1. What does Cohousing have to offer in addressing these challenges?
  2. How can more people benefit from what Cohousing has to offer?
  3. What are we gonna do about it?

Afterward, the answers were synthesized and the entire group reconvened to reflect on what we had learned from each other, and to get ideas on how to share it with others. Craig Freshley of Good Group Decisions tells us what we came up with:

Download/Share/Act: http://www.GoodGroupDecisions.com/NationalCohousingConversation.pdf

Living Lightly on the Earth (and the Wallet) in Community

LILAC is building the UK’s first affordable, ecological cohousing project in Leeds. LILAC (Low Impact Living Affordable Community) is a model for the future of housing development where communities deliver their own housing projects. This project is tackling the challenges of social, ecological and economic sustainability in one swoop: they are combining the benefits of community living with zero carbon housing that is affordable. LILAC is creating a community in which its residents are a mutual help to each other and the world. Watch LILAC Cohousing’s documentary:

Coho U Video Update: It’s a Great Time to Start a Cohousing Community!

Kathryn McCamantJoshua — a founding member of Good Tree Village — attended Developing Cohousing: Soup to Nuts and a Few Lessons Learned at the Cohousing University (CoHo U), a workshop intensive that was a prequel to the 2011 National Cohousing Conference which began today. In this two-part video dispatch, he gets the low down from the “grand dame” of cohousing, Kathryn McCamant, architect and co-author of the newly released cohousing “bible”, Creating Cohousing: Building Sustainable Communities. McCamant encourages wanna-be cohousers to look forward beyond the recession to great opportunities already present — like lower land prices!

Part 1:

Part 2:

Coho U Video Update: Organization, Marketing & Money

Joshua — a founding member of Good Tree Village — is attending Developing Cohousing: Soup to Nuts and a Few Lessons Learned at the Cohousing University, or CoHo U, a workshop intensive that is a prequel to the 2011 National Cohousing Conference which begins tomorrow. In this quick video update, he shares three essentials for any group wishing to start a cohousing community: organization, marketing and money.

Coho U Video Update: Standardization Saves Residents Cash

Joshua — a founding member of Good Tree Village — is attending Developing Cohousing: Soup to Nuts and a Few Lessons Learned at the Cohousing University, or CoHo U, a workshop intensive that is a prequel to the 2011 National Cohousing Conference which begins this Friday. In this short video update, he shares a quick tip that can save residents money when developing the physical cohousing community.

An Economy of Well-Being

In 1934, Simon Kuznets introduced the idea of the Gross Domestic Product to Congress. The GDP is the measure of all the goods and services that change hands in the country in a year. It is the number we use to measure our standard of living. When GDP goes up, we are theoretically doing well. When it goes down, we are doing poorly. That is the theory.

There is a movement to dislodge this measure because it masks the reality of people’s lives. A growing number of economists are successfully arguing that the scarcity-based, money-centric model is not serving us, but destroying us. It puts no value on generosity, relationship, kindness, cooking, gardening, watching kids and all the non-money exchanges that comprise neighborliness and build community.

Starting with this set of principles, author Mark Anielski, in his book The Economics of Happiness, has developed an alternative measure to the GDP: what he calls a Genuine Progress Index, GPI. Included in this measure are the very human functions of parenting and eldercare, free time, volunteerism, household infrastructure, savings rate, ecological footprint, air and water quality, fish and wildlife, voter participation — many of the things that John and I say grow out of abundant communities.

Anielski also assesses the usual measures of economic exchanges, employment and income, but they are not the point; they are just some of the factors that constitute the wealth of a family and community.

Excerpt from:
The Economics of Neighborliness: A Requirement for an Abundant Community
by Peter Block

Sample a Cohousing Smorgasbord at the 2011 National Conference This June in Washington, D.C.

2011 National Cohousing ConferenceFolks in the DC Metro area have an excellent opportunity to learn more about creating environmentally, economically and socially sustainable neighborhoods. The 2011 National Cohousing Conference will be in the DC area from 15-19 June. It’s not too late to register for the chance to learn more about cohousing, meet people who live in cohousing communities across the U.S., and network with cohousing professionals.

You’ll find you’ve got lots of options even if you have limited time and/or budget.

For example, for $60 you can take a half-day tour of two urban cohousing communities: Takoma Village in DC, and Eastern Village in Silver Spring, MD. Lunch is included and you’ll have the advantage of seeing communities up close and interact with the people who actually live in cohousing communities. Or if you prefer to check out both urban and rural communities, for $105 take an all-day tour of 1 rural and 2 urban communities: Catoctin Creek Village in Lovettsville, VA; Blueberry Hill in Vienna, VA; and Eastern Village in Silver Spring, MD.

Another option is to attend conference workshops Friday-only or Saturday-only. In just one day, you can attend 4 or 5 workshops.

Creating CohousingOn Friday, Charles Durrett — one of the architects who brought cohousing to the U.S. — will be teaching Cohousing 101. Other Friday workshops include:

  • Cohousing & Sustainability,
  • Exploring Different Community Types: Cohousing, Ecovillages, Income-Sharing & Spiritual Communities, and
  • Net Zero Energy

Saturday workshop options include:

  • Developing Partnerships to Achieve Long Term Affordability: Exploring Shared Equity,
  • Eldering in Cohousing and
  • Co-Farming: Growing Food in Community

This is just a sample of the smorgasbord. There’s lots more!

Some of the leaders of the cohousing community will do plenary talks: Kathryn McCamant & Charles Durrett (authors of newly released Creating Cohousing), Liz Walker (author of Choosing a Sustainable Future), and Ross Chapin (author of Pocket Neighborhoods). See the conference schedule for more details on workshop schedules and topics. Make sure you click “Friday details” and “Saturday details” to get in-depth information.

For those who want all the soup-to-nuts details, try the pre-conference 2-day intensive Coho U.

It’s never been this easy to learn how to create better neighborhoods for the future.