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The Big Answer


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Creating Cohousing: Building Sustainable Communities

a book by Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett

(our site's book review)

Cohousing Balances Privacy and Independence with the Benefits of Living in Community

Amazon has this blurb: Cohousing balances privacy and independence with the benefits of living in community. This completely revised and updated third edition of the “cohousing bible” invites readers into these sustainable neighborhoods, and provides practical tools for developing their own.

A man's home is his castle, but demographic and economic changes have turned our castles . . .
A man's home is his castle, but demographic and economic changes have turned our castles . . .


. . . into islands
. . . into islands
A man's home is his castle. But demographic and economic changes have turned our castles into islands. How can we regain the elements of the traditional village—family, cooperation, community and a sense of belonging—within the context of 21st century life?

Creating Cohousing: Building Sustainable Communities is an in-depth exploration of a uniquely rewarding type of housing which is perfect for anyone who values their independence but longs for more connection with those around them. Written by the award-winning team that wrote the original "cohousing bible" and first brought cohousing to North America, this fully-illustrated manual combines nuts-and-bolts practical considerations and design ideas with extensive case studies of dozens of diverse communities in Europe and North America.

The Sunward Cohousing community illustrating greenspace preservation, tightly clustered housing, and parking on periphery, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 2003.
The Sunward Cohousing community illustrating greenspace preservation, tightly clustered housing, and parking on periphery, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 2003.

Cohousing Makes Everything from Gardening to Childcare to Socializing Easier

Cohousing communities create unique opportunities for designing more sustainable lifestyles. Whether urban, suburban or rural; senior or intergenerational; retrofit or new, the authors show how the physical structures of cohousing communities lend themselves to a more efficient use of resources, and make everything from gardening to childcare to socializing easier.

Creating Cohousing: Building Sustainable Communities puts the "neighbor" back into "neighborhood"; and is an essential resource for anyone interested in more environmentally and socially sustainable living.

Cohousing playground next to Common House—cohousing is one type of intentional community
Cohousing playground next to Common House—cohousing is one type of intentional community

"Cohousing communities are intentional, collaborative neighborhoods that combine extensive common facilities with private homes to create strong and successful housing developments. Most of these communities are organized as townhouse or condominium developments with a homeowners association; a few are organized as cooperatives. Cohousing is not a financial or legal model, but rather a descriptive term that shows the intent of these developments to cultivate a strong sense of community through extensive common facilities and active collaboration of the residents." (Source: cohousing.org, The Cohousing Association of the United States)


Economic Realities Convince Thousands of People to Join Intentional Communities

As families seek to live more sustainably to respect their mother planet and more economically to respect the economic realities stemming from the scarce jobs/low wage/both parents working situation in the U.S., they are more and more turning to various strategies in harmony with said realities, such as intentional communities of various types. The members of an intentional community typically hold a common social, political, religious, or spiritual vision and often follow an alternative lifestyle. They typically share responsibilities and resources. Intentional communities include collective households, cohousing communities, ecovillages, communes, survivalist retreats, kibbutzim, ashrams, and housing cooperatives.

Cohousing offers an ideal balance of privacy and community, with neighbors choosing to participate in activities at the level they wish. Some people consider these resident-created neighborhoods a return to the best of small-town America. Others say they are like a traditional village or the close-knit neighborhoods of earlier generations. Futurists suggest that cohousing is a new response to the 21st century’s social, economic and environmental challenges. By 2008, there were more than 113 established cohousing neighborhoods in the U.S. and approximately 100 more in development.


Our Communities and Relationships Are in Need of Serious Help—Intentional Community to the Rescue

Our society is full of dysfunctional relationships in families and in communities, between spouses, lovers and friends, and between kids and parents. (See for yourself in the MC-Related Research section of the MC Articles section of the Articles page.) Parents work and have little time to nurture their kids. Communities exist only physically, but not as viable social groupings. Neighborhoods are groups of strangers putting up with other strangers.

But we wish the above was not true. We want deep relationships with strong bonds in friendships, in families, in neighbors, in communities. Cohousing, like collective households, ecovillages, communes, survivalist retreats, kibbutzim, ashrams, and housing cooperatives, are attempts to create missing bonds, community, meaning, friendships, and ecologically conscious ways of living. We also attempt to improve upon nurturing for our children by more nurturing adults for them to choose from, which is called flat-gradient nurturance. We attempt to make up for lack of community by use of social networking but end up lonelier yet. See Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?. So we get real and find or create intentional communities.

Cohousing communities create unique opportunities for designing more sustainable lifestyles—cohousing creates a more efficient use of resources, and make everything from gardening to childcare to socializing easier
Cohousing communities create unique opportunities for designing more sustainable lifestyles—cohousing creates a more efficient use of resources, and make everything from gardening to childcare to socializing easier

See: