Alice Alexander, Coho/US Executive Director
Do you feel safe and secure? Given the appalling violence profiled in daily, that has to be a question that arises for each of us. Despite pleas also constantly voiced that we should not give in to fear, we naturally question our security, and the resultant stress can chip away at our confidence and happiness.
Does living in cohousing help alleviate fears? The emotional safety net that community creates does nurture our confidence; being part of a tribe can be enormously helpful when facing life crises. Physical safety is a shared value among our communities, with policies to guide us, common areas protected from auto traffic, and security systems built in. Joani Blank pointed out years ago that cohousing intrinsically provides security, noting our "all eyes on the common areas," with strangers being instantly recognizable. Joani also provided good advice to build community with your neighbors in the blocks surrounding you.
My Durham Central Park Coho has been occupied two years now. We made connection with neighbors a key part of planning for urban habitation. Safety was a part of our design planning and has been incorporated into routines, such as our "nightly rounds." The walker is tasked with various checks and observations, yet a side benefit is a member wide consistency in our attention to safety. By posting discrepancies to the community list serve (such as unlocked doors), we become aware as a group of where trouble spots are. The awareness of shared responsibility has resulted in a satisfying level of trust and confidence.
Physical safety and community emotional support that collaborative living provides are key components to our sense of security. But is that enough? You may join me in feeling fear every day for much of humanity. Rather than be paralyzed by the enormity of what we face today, I translate some of that anxiety into positive action by advocating for more cohousing communities. I advocate that living in a culture of caring and sharing builds confidence that calls us to civic engagement - that eventually leads to societal resilience and global compassion.
How does cohousing affect your sense of security? And does this influence your life's work and activities? I would welcome hearing from you!
alicecohous [at] gmail [dot] com