A member of our group learned about this community, and it seemed like a great place to visit. As part of our research, getting a chance to see other communities makes us think of what we would want to have in a community. In addition, we get a realistic perspective on the amount of work, the planning process required, and other challenges.
Right away, I could imagine taking care of chickens and goats, planting fruit trees, and walking the peaceful grounds. The outdoor kitchen is a fabulous idea, giving a sense of welcome to everyone who joins shared meals. We listened carefully to stories about unexpected problems that can occur, and what it takes to maintain a large property. It spurred a very good discussion about different types of properties and features.
The residents were so generous with their time. Visit the Emerald Village website to learn more about their site.
They have great resources and videos on their page for Activated Villages, which helps groups looking at properties know what to do to prepare. View the helpful workshop videos which provide information on real estate and types of housing loans. They recommend getting together with your group and doing a vision exercise to write out what each person is picturing for the community, then organize the themes as a way to start your discussion. Figure out how the group will discuss individual finances and assess income. This sounds like a part of the discussion that would need special handling! The group should talk with a business lawyer, CPA, or financial planner.
I particularly love their positive message that this is possible, we just need to get creative to create the lives we envision. “Real estate is the easy part. Getting people together is the hard part.”
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.
Shared housing is one of my interests, and I’ve been researching cohousing and intentional communities for several years.
The range of possibilities is so appealing. I see this type of project as a way to build community, support one another in achieving dreams and making daily life easier, and providing a place that is healthy for people and the planet.
For an introduction, see this great video.
Does this sound like you? Join in! There is an interest group forming and meeting twice a month.
Contact AtHomeCohousing@gmail.com with questions or to be added to the mailing list.