February 16, 2016
Carina Young, the lead initiator of the group Harrisonburg Cohousing, and fellow member Barbara Colson, made members of the CAAV Steering Committee wish they were younger and had more options, as the many benefits of co-housing became plain to us. “A neighborhood designed to promote community,” it is neither a commune nor a religious group, but with a positive environmental focus. We were shown several such “built communities” already established in Virginia, including Abingdon, Blacksburg, and Vienna of some 150 in North America.
In Cohousing design, cars are deemphasized and relegated to the outer edges of the community, creating quiet, safe green spaces for walking paths, children’s play areas and outdoor gathering spaces. They also contain a Common or Group House for gatherings and group dining, all designed by the people who plan to live there. Housing units may be single family, condos or townhouses, but typically are smaller than the average U.S. home, both to promote energy efficiency and gathering in community. Existing communities have 15-33 housing units, and 40-100 people. About 50 person communities seem to be most successful.
Cohousing promotes a practical and spontaneous intergenerational lifestyle, where children and older adults are all prized and create a knowledge pool for problem solving, offering “the best of dorm and retirement community living.”
Attend one of the bimonthly potlucks to get acquainted and learn more. Harrisonburg Cohousing is still at an early stage of development, so if it seems to you, as it does to us, like an interesting and fun way to live more sustainably and compensate for the widespread loss of extended family, get in touch through their website now!
– Anne Nielsen, CAAV Coalition Building Committee
Carina shared this video with the CAAV steering committee (click on image to view):
Each month, the CAAV Coalition Building Committee invites a community member or group to present to the CAAV steering committee about projects with which they are involved. We are grateful to be working with so many other groups and individuals passionate about creating a more resilient, healthy and just world.