I envision a community that would allow people to be healthy, garden, have an affordable and secure place to live. But more than that, I think of a supportive community of people.
A large part of this would be supporting each other through exchanging many times of things like child care, lessons, cooking, and anything that people are willing to provide. Currently, many members of our interest group are members of a Time Bank where we exchange these services. Our TimeBank is a community of people living in the Westside Los Angeles (there are time banks all over the LA area as well). For every hour you help another member, you earn a Time Credit. Then you can use that Time Credit to have a neighbor help you.
This is a great way to meet people and build community. To me, it’s also a large element of what a cohousing community would have in terms of helping each other. It’s a great system because it eliminates any trepidation in asking for help, since you put up the request on the site and see who is willing to respond. You don’t have to ask a specific person, so they won’t feel pressured. And when the person earns a time credit, you don’t feel obligated to return the favor directly to them. It takes some awkwardness out of these personal relationships when it comes to helping each other out. It also sets clear expectations, so that everyone understands what will be provided by the community, and doesn’t expect more than can be offered by living in a cohousing project.