Jenny of CoHousing Solutions
Californians had a lot of choices for where to visit last Saturday the 30th for Cohousing Open House Day. From Arcata to L.A. to the Bay and Sierra Foothills in-between, 19 communities participated - more than any other state (though you came close, Massachusetts). I had the treat of touring Muir Commons in Davis, and arrived curious about who and what I'd find in this 25 year-old community, the very first built in the United States. I wondered - Does community stand the test of time, when only a few founding members are left? Can their vision grow and be translated for a new generation?
From the few hours' glimpse I got, the answer was YES. And it seems that celebrating milestones and keeping traditions (with flexibility) were at the root of the community's success. The Common House entry walls are adorned with group photos from every year to current, paired with a timeline from 1991 move-in to present: one of the first entries being "Adele: 1st Cohousing Baby!"
And overall, it seems that kids - and more importantly, the energy they bring - keep this community strong, almost 30 of them currently (more of them than adults in fact). Youth is a good glue for keeping long meetings succinct, and prioritizing safety and long-term health of the community as a whole. It's inspiring to watch the movement grow through their eyes. My tour guide Tanya's little girl thrived in community as the youngest on the 5-14 year old community soccer team, where older kids would miss easy shots so she could hit them instead. And guide #2 Liz's little boy has been known to refuse outside play dates, even when frozen yogurt was involved. "But Mom, I already have everything I need right here..."
This isn't to say adult-only communities won't/don't thrive equally successfully; but keeping room for exploration then too can keep communities resilient. Cheers to Cohousing Open House Day - an all ages, one-day window into this lovely world many call home.