Opening the Door to Cohousing in China

Many of you may remember the story of Gou (Joy) Chuangjing and her five colleagues from China who attended the 2015 National Cohousing Conference. In June last year, I shared correspondence from her, thanking all of us for a great conference experience (below).

Thanks to Megan Shea from Berkeley, California, we have an update on Joy’s efforts. Megan recently spent a few months in China, and enjoyed connecting with Joy. Megan will be back in China next spring and has offered to keep chatting with Joy and post blogs about what she and her group are up to.

From Megan:

Joy and I had a great time corresponding but we didn't actually get to meet in person (sadly, we were in cities 1000 km apart). Joy is quite remarkable. There doesn't seem to be any modern precedent for cohousing in China, and yet she's undauntedly moving forward with the community she wants to get started in Nanjing. She told me they've spent the past year talking up the concept and meeting local government officials, etc. They've now selected a site outside of Nanjing with access to parkland and transit-- a big accomplishment.

I'm really excited for Joy's group and I wish them all the best. Getting things done in China requires all kinds of unexpected barriers, and I think the best hope of building cohousing there is for there to be a passionate, capable local advocate. Joy certainly is!

My partner will be back in China next spring and I'd love to visit her then, especially if they have a site secured…. Back in April Joy told me that the next few months would be pivotal in terms of government cooperation; she said the project would be green lighted at that point...Fingers crossed that there will be more to write about as the project moves forward!

From June 2015:
Many of you were intrigued that we enjoyed six representatives from China at the National Cohousing Conference. I had been contacted this spring by Gou (Joy) Chuanjing, who discovered our website in their research on cohousing. I encouraged her to come to the National Conference, and she agreed - bringing 5 of her colleagues with her!

Below is an email from Joy, upon arriving back just last night to Nanjing.

I hope you take pride as I do that cohousing in the U.S. is having an impact on another continent and culture.

PS The participation of Joy and her group inspired Laura Fitch to provide a Chinese version of the Cohousing Slide Show.

Dear Alice, I'm so sorry to reply your e-mail so late... After leaving Durham, we had a pretty full schedule, and I just came back to China this midnight. We really had a wonderful trip in the U.S.. The community visits, the experiences shared, the friendly people and your help and consideration would be good memory in our minds forever. I really, really thank you for your suggestion and help about the cohousing!

I was very excited when we met at the cohousing conference, especially after so many e-mails between us~ Wish I could be your guide when you visit China ^_^

Also, I'm impressed by your Chinese slide show! Yes, this is another door open to China, let more Chinese people know cohousing! In fact, with the development of China, aging society and environmental issues are severe problems we Chinese must face and solve. Cohousing provides a attractive alternative.

At the same time, I have to say, the Durham Central Park Cohousing Community you lived in is so...COOL! (I saw your name on the board of residents, do you? ) I really ,really love it! Just like a Utopia in reality!

Also, thanks to our bus tour guide (a gentleman with a hat, shorts and glasses, and grey hair, we were in Group C, I'm sorry I can't get his name, sometimes my listening is not good... but he's very nice!), we had a very excellent tour!

I'm really impressed and inspired by all you've done. You gave me a different view and impression about seniors, totally different from most Chinese seniors. So many respect and thank you! So many to learn!

Let's stay in touch! Of course, your help and support is very important to us! Also, I wish I could be helpful when you need.

Best,
Joy

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