EDITION: February - April 2011


Texto: Jerry Brownstein

A new way of living

The world around us is changing so rapidly that many people feel less connection to the traditional societal structures of government, family and religion. They are looking for new sources of communal support that more accurately reflect their evolving values, and the concept of co-housing is in perfect synch with that trend. In this alternative style of living people come together to actively participate in the design, construction and operation of their own neighborhoods. While every co-housing resident is an independent homeowner, they have each made the conscious commitment to promote harmony in their community through shared values, mutual assistance and lasting friendship.
The first of these “living communities” originated in Denmark in the late 1960’s, but until recently their spread through the Western world had been very gradual. It now appears that this is an idea whose time has arrived because the growth of co-housing has accelerated greatly in the past decade with hundreds of new projects being started. The creation of a new co-housing development begins when an enthusiastic core group of residents sets out to find the perfect location for their dream community. The next step is to work together with architects and builders to design an overall plan for the project that respects and enhances the natural beauty of the property. There is normally a high level of environmental consciousness in these groups so green materials and building techniques are employed as much as possible and the houses are constructed so as to provide sustainable eco-friendly living. 

At the heart of every co-housing community is the Common House featuring a large dining room where optional group meals are offered once or twice a week. In addition the common house will typically include a library, exercise room, play areas for children, guest rooms, a workshop, laundry facilities, and whatever else a particular community might desire. The entire complex is managed by the residents themselves who meet regularly to resolve problems and develop policy for the community. They also do much of the actual work to maintain and administer the property as every homeowner volunteers several hours of their time each month to perform communal tasks that are suited to their age and abilities. Working together in this way for the common good creates a bond of trust among the residents and gives rise to a shared sense that they belong to something greater than themselves.

The winds of change are blowing through all levels of society seeking to bring us into closer alignment with our highest ideals. Those who make the conscious choice to live in a community that is based on considerate cooperation and noble values are a reflection of this transformative energy. The motto of the co-housing movement expresses their role in this evolution of consciousness with simple eloquence:
“To improve the World – one neighborhood at a time.”