Sunday, June 23, 2013

Strange and beautiful ideas about cohousing

Trying to explain what cohousing is can be difficult at times.  People have some of the strangest ideas about our cohousing home!

They can't figure out if it's a co-op, a commune, or a condo. But Pacific Gardens Cohousing Community has elements of these and more.

Most often folks assume it's a co-op, and no matter how many times we correct them, they still call it that. But we own our units, not rent them.

We are an intentional community, though, like a co-op, and we manage our own affairs, just like co-ops do, with a board and committees to run things, and meetings where residents make decisions.

Often people think cohousing is like a 1960s-style commune, with hippie residents who wear tie-dyed shirts and birkenstocks, eat crunchy granola, and grow B.C. bud in the backyard.

We do share common space, like our dining-room, music room, and exercise room, but we grow fruits and veggies in our organic gardens, like the strawberries Mykl picked today!

The residents certainly can't be stereotyped.  We have nurses, students, a yoga instructor, a former ESL teacher, a retired naval officer, a meteorologist, and a chef, to name a few.

I like to explain to people that we live in a condo, but cohousing is the concept that guides our physical design and the way we choose to live here.

That means the focus is on social interaction. We each have our own kitchens - but they have windows that face out to the inner atrium, so we can see our neighbours.

We cook our own meals, but we like to share them with the rest of the community in our weekly dinner potlucks and our popular weekend brunches.

Most of us have our own television sets, but we like to gather in the dining-room once in a while to watch a movie with our neighbours, or have a games night with both kids and adults.

The reason those of us who pioneered this cohousing development wanted to have a place like Pacific Gardens is because we wanted to know our neighbours.

So, we do have our privacy, but not to the point where we are socially isolated, surrounded by people we don't know and have never met, as so many are today.

To us, living apart from others is the really strange idea!


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