Can a New Neighborhood and Ownership Model Solve Our Problems
There are three overlapping crises in the US right now:
One way to mitigate all those crises, is to change the very way we build and inhabit space. By finding and creating new ways to live in closer relationship with our neighbors we can ease our isolation, hold down the costs of rent and mortgages and, consume less stuff and energy.
Cohousing is one of the best ways to accomplish all three of those objectives.
Co-housing developments differ greatly in form and design but the common denominator is small private homes/condos for each household with large and abundant shared spaces and amenities. For example, a couple might have its own 900 square foot townhouse that shares walls with their neighbors and have access to a 5,000 ft common house, a workshop, a craft studio, a large garden plot, and a sunny veranda.
Because the living spaces are small, they are easy to heat and cool and because the community is tight they can reduce the redundancy of belongings like outdoor grills, lawn mowers, and even cars. Cohousing residents typically lower their carbon footprint by 40 to 70%. This reduction, if widely adopted could have a significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions and help stave off more climate change.
Because Co housing neighborhoods are designed to attract people into common spaces and to have front doors facing one another, it is much easier to have casual sustaining contact with other human beings. and when times get tough as they did during the covid pandemic, tightly knit neighbors support one another.
Cohousers also share in the design, maintenance and governance of the community using collaborative and consensus techniques so that everyone is engaged and committed.
Cohousing communities, if they maintain that commitment to each other and to affordability, can help first-time home buyers make the important transition out of rental housing so that they can build equity and security for their families.
No one thing, no one move will solve all our problems. But for those of us who want to do the most good for ourselves, each other, and the planet, living in cohousing definitely ticks the important boxes.
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