As people, we naturally gravitate towards a sense of belonging or community. Interest has been growing around the idea of co-housing. Internationally, Berlin leads the initiative for shared living resources. Many people consider the model a viable solution from the point of view of economics, equitability and a chance for 360 (degrees?) of cooperation. Some of the best features include a system that values and embraces diversity and leans towards being green and sustainable while also fostering mutual respect. The willingness to negotiate, set common goals and exercise empathy makes for a rich human environment at a time when isolation and loneliness have become the challenges of our times. Multigenerational living arrangements bring many talents to the foreground and can lead to a wonderful round table of interests and capabilities. A child holds the hand of an elder as they read together, just as Mom or Dad makes supper in the shared kitchen after a busy day at work.
By having a chance to bump and connect with each other, as part of a living arrangement, we learn more about ourselves as individuals and the value of true community. Open mindedness and trust grow as common goals and the co-housing group learns to live and practice under a fair and beautiful governance that welcomes ideas but which also understands the necessity for boundaries on the basis of safety, reason and compassion.
Structurally, there are different ideas for how the physical living space may be used. Some communities enjoy building from the ground up and each unit is owned by an individual or a smaller group within the whole. Common rooms abound, along with the opportunity for gardens, shared vehicles and other tools that benefit the group and the residency as a whole. There are opportunities to contribute for all of those involved. Other models involve taking, for example, an existing structure such as a large house or a series of apartments with common areas and adding the share idea as opposed to separate segmented territories of living. There is always, however, an opportunity to have time alone as well as time in common. This accommodates the need for a private existence as well as the more public or communal one.
Overall the co-housing initiative is a brilliant solution to some of our global issues such as the housing crisis rising from a burgeoning global population. It alleviates loneliness by allowing people to come together to care for themselves but also others. Finally, the model teaches and facilitates a healthy sense of community in the very place where this starts, the place, means and manner of your day to day residency. The neighborhood just grew more beautiful, more intelligent and more hearted.
Here in London, Ontario we have started the process in what will be a very exciting journey towards a co-housing development. -The Hope-