Cohousing: Building Community in a Society Largely Removed from Community

I’m really excited for the National Cohousing Conference, May 19 - 21, in Nashville, TN. Cohousing as a model is growing and evolving at a rapid pace, and this is great news for intentional communities and cooperative ventures everywhere. Cohousing communities have long been on the forefront of dealing with financial institutions, zoning officials, and developers, all people who are steeped in practices antithetical to what the community is trying to create. It’s like a group of martians coming down and saying, hey, we’d like to set up a little colony on the edge of town.

But over the last 30 years, as cohousing as grown and developed, and a whole generation has passed through (either on to college or to whatever’s after this life), cohousing continues to be on the forefront of what it means and what it looks like to build community in a society at the same time both largely removed from community and deeply hungry for it.

One of the struggles many cohousing communities have faced is how to accommodate an aging population, and how to be attractive and financial accessible to new, younger members. Senior cohousing and aging in place have been core concerns for the cohousing movement for a while, and an exceptional amount has been learned and documented about this. This will certainly be a highlight of the conference.

But the conference also touches on issues that are becoming increasingly pressing. Wendy Wiesner, Executive Director of the Partnerships for Affordable Cohousing, will give a presentation on, you guessed it, how to make cohousing affordable. There will also be a presentation on resilience and sustainability in cohousing by the Cohousing Research Network. I’m also particularly looking forward to the keynote presentation by Sarah van Gelder, co-founder of Yes! Magazine, as well as co-founder of a cohousing community. Where does cohousing fit in with the search for positive solutions to the world’s problems? I’m sure Sarah will give us some powerful insight into this question.

The conference will also host a 30 year retrospective presentation from cohousing pioneer Katie McCamant. In preparation for this, I highly recommend watching the documentary , which looks at cohousing communities in Europe, where this model originated.

So, will I see you at the conference? I hope so. Come stop by the Fellowship for Intentional Community’s table and bookstore and chat with me about how we can keep building this movement and transforming the world.

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