Liberty Village began when a few of the community initiators invited Chuck & Katie (as architects Charles Durrett and Katie McCamant are called in cohousing circles) to speak. Much to everyone’s delight, about 30 people showed up! That meeting led to the construction of a self-developed, multi-generational cohousing community with mostly duplexes and a couple of single family homes.
Liberty Village boasts a more sophisticated community because of the duration its development. What’s the key to this community’s longevity? They make guidelines instead of rules. They take time to have discussions, getting concerns out ahead of time, and talk, talk, talk to work things out as opposed to avoiding conflict. When the decision has be made and it’s time to get things done, no one formally keeps track of who is doing how much, but everyone contributes in their own way. For example, some people like cooking meals and avoid outside work like the plague, but those who like to play in the dirt have free range to work knowing that they’ve got a scrumptious meal waiting in the community kitchen. Speaking of the kitchen, the folks in Liberty Village make time to eat together 1 – 2 times a week with four people on the cooking team for just one week a year. For those who like to eat, but not cook, those are some nice odds.
If lively discussion and consensus decision-making in the setting of a charming, rural, sustainable community sounds enticing to you, contact Liberty Village because they are ready to add 10 more homes to the 18 already clustered on 8-acres. An additional 15 sprawling acres are set aside for wetlands, meadows and woods for man, woman, child and nature to share. The geothermal heating — which means low energy bills — are a definite added bonus. Other green benefits include community-wide recycling and composting, rain gardens and riparian buffers for natural water filtration, a warm season grass meadow that provides wildlife shelter and food, a 2.8 acre reforestation area of native trees and shrubs, a Chesapeake Bay-Wise Certification, and the Chicken Palace next to a community vegetable garden.
From my quick visit there I got the feeling that a short and sweet mantra for Liberty Village might be to listen, contribute, and support your neighbor. When you move in and you see old Waldo waddling down those pedestrian-friendly footpaths, make sure you give him a gentle scratch behind the ears for me.
We visited many of the DC metro area’s cohousing communities on the 2012 Mid-Atlantic Cohousing Bus Tour. Up next is part three in this four-part series: Blueberry Hill Cohousing in Vienna, VA.
What about this rural, sustainable cohousing community appeals to you? What would you do differently?