"Meals are prepared and served by the community every Monday and Wednesday evening. Planning and preparation are done by neighborhood teams. Each team is responsible for two meals every five weeks. There are dinner "clubs" on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, with regular members taking turns as chef, and occasional weekend brunches and potlucks."
"Half to three-quarters of our members dine at regular meals, and there are frequent guests, as well. Whenever possible, meals are planned around the produce from our organic garden."
The website defines it this way:
"Cohousing is the name of a type of collaborative housing that attempts to overcome the alienation of modern subdivisions in which no-one knows their neighbors, and there is no sense of community. It is characterized by private dwellings with their own kitchen, living-dining room etc, but also extensive common facilities. The common building may include a large dining room, kitchen, lounges, meeting rooms, recreation facilities, library, workshops, childcare."
"Usually, cohousing communities are designed and managed by the residents, and are intentional neighborhoods: the people are consciously committed to living as a community; the physical design itself encourages that and facilitates social contact. The typical cohousing community has 20 to 30 single family homes along a pedestrian street or clustered around a courtyard. Residents of cohousing communities often have several optional group meals in the common building each week."
The webstie www.cohousing.org lists all the cohousing in america and parts of the world. Many have their own website and some give pictures of their communities. Also listed are groups in cities that are trying to form a community. One of the best websites for community is the Intentional Communities site at: www.ic.org. It lists many communities around the world and has some great information on the philosophy of community.
At the website (www.songaia.com) for a cohousing community in Seattle called Songaia one of the residents writes:
Imagine living in a neighborhood where you actually know your neighbors.
Not just the occasional "Hello, how are you?" at the mailbox, but real friendships based on shared values, interests and social activities.
Kids (with some Parents) having fun in Songaia's community dining room. Imagine living where you feel safe and where your children can play freely; at the playground, on the sidewalk or in the woods without worries about dangerous strangers and speeding cars.
Imagine living in a place where resources are shared and the idea that "It takes a village to raise a child" is taken seriously.
This is cohousing at Songaia and this is how I imagine life for my family in the not so distant future.
I am looking forward to many things - one of which is community dinners. Most evenings we will get to eat with our friends and only have to cook every few weeks!
Women of Songaia, w/Baby Ian, at their 1999 annual Women's Retreat. The dark central figure is a sculpture of a woman that didn't photograph particularly well...
Some of Songaia's shared kitchen tools, from left to right: a Sony radio/CD player, Champion juicer, marble mortar & pestle, Vita-mix blender, Cuisinart food processor, and KitchenAid dishwasher.
I find the idea of access to quality tools, appliances and equipment that we might not be able to afford or find space for on our own appealing as well. I dont need to personally own a Vita-mix, a Kitchen Aid, a bread machine a juicer etc. because these are things that we can all shared.
I want my kids to be around animals, but I am not so keen on dog ownership. Other folks have dogs and they welcome any attention that my kids care to lavish on them.
I am also excited about sharing chores. Doing the dishes by myself isnt much fun, but doing them with a friend can be a good opportunity to chat. I hate weeding, but I will probably never have to do it as there are other people who find it relaxing (something that mystifies me). I can find other ways to help. These are just a few of the many things that make me smile when I think of our future at Songaia.
Teenager, Zeph, petting Ursa, a very big, very friendly dog enjoyed by many at Songaia.
Click here to see more pictures of some cohousing communities.
PUBLIC VS. PRIVATE
I believe it would be best to not invite strangers to hear the Principle and have workshops for strangers at the cohousing communities. It would be better to have people we do not know meet members to discuss the movement somewhere else and not advertise where we live. We should separate our private and public life. We need to keep our homes as safe as possible. Perhaps it would be best to have a gate and when large enough even a guard at the entrance. Those who live in the community should invite people who they trust will not molest or hurt anyone. We read too many stories of nut cases killing people on a shooting spree. I also believe that some brothers should have guns in their homes for defense in case an insane person goes on a rampage.