So much about modern life doesn't encourage community. We drive around our neighborhoods in cars, our homes are surrounded by fences and there are so few common areas to hang out. We end up not knowing even our closest neighbors.
Cohousing is a type of collaborative housing that attempts to overcome many of these barriers by building in opportunities for people to interact. From the way our houses are laid out to the way we organize ourselves socially, everything is designed to encourage frequent and meaningful social interaction.
Although we all own our own homes, they are arranged in a circular pattern, thus creating a grassy common space in the middle, which is perfect for kids, dogs and so on. Cars are parked in a separate lot so that we walk past our neighbors' front doors to get to ours. The common house (with a kitchen, dining room and living room) also facilitates social interaction, including group meals three times a week, happy hours, and all kinds of activities.
Whilst we have no official philosophy, most of our residents have a commitment to living "gently" on the land; composting, recycling and gardening organically.
In cohousing, nobody is "in charge" because we all make decisions together. If you're worried about your neighbors telling you what color to paint your house or when to mow your lawn, that's not the idea. Of course we do try to be courteous to each other and thoughtful of other peoples' needs but we also try not to impose our opinions or desires upon each other. This is community, not family. :-)
This type of housing began in Denmark in the late 1960's and spread to North America in the late 1980's. There are now more than a hundred cohousing communities completed or in development across the United States and Canada.
Cohousing offers security. Neighbors know each other and look out for the security of the community.
Cohousing offers lots of chances to be sociable. Have meaningful interactions with neighbors whilst watering your plants or walking to your car.
Cohousing offers privacy when you need it. We each own our house, so if you need your space, you've got it.
Cohousing is a great place for your kids to grow up. In the summer months the kids play in outdoor common areas and in winter they can hang out in the playroom or at each other's houses. They also have the opportunity to get to know people of all ages and to feel part of a community that cares about them.
Cohousing offers many opportunities to share knowledge and skills. Can you fix the sink and build a deck but have no idea how to create a budget? Or perhaps you're a tech genius but you've never boiled an egg. Although we are never required to lend a hand, in our community we often share knowledge and skills, making everyone's life easier.
Cohousing is a great place to collaborate with your neighbors on shared interests. From book club, banjo jamming sessions and community yoga to play readings and making films, Cantine's Islanders like to be creative together.
Cohousing cultivates a sense of togetherness and belonging. So much of modern life makes you feel invisible or alone. Cohousing creates a sense that we're part of something.
Cohousing meals provide neighbors a chance to be with each other on a regular basis. We have (optional) community meals about three times a week with a rotating chef and clean-up crew. Eating together is a joy that never gets old!