Scaling Development By Equipping Entrepreneurs
Imagine a world where cohousing is the new normal. Every town has at least one senior community and one intergenerational community. Imagine the creation of the next 500 socially and environmentally sustainable communities in the US, and Canada, and the rest of the world. We all need community.
Making this a reality will take many people with many talents. They will need training and a space for collaboration. It was this idea that led Katie McCamant to create the 500 Communities Program. Now recruiting her fourth class, Katie will be hosting a live webinar about the program on Monday, February 24th.
As one of the original cohousing pioneers, Katie has been developing communities for over three decades. She’s pouring the knowledge and wisdom gathered in those years into each class of 500 Communities students, and the cohort of currently 16 affiliates who continue to explore business models and support one another through monthly phone calls. It is this combination of collaboration and learning among professionals that will scale the creation of cohousing and collaborative communities to the rate needed in our world.
Katie started the 500 Communities program in hopes of developing skilled professionals to work alongside her in her life’s dream of a better world through strong communities. From loan officers who understand the intricacies of a cohousing construction loan to developers and project managers who understand the importance of social community and marketers that understand how to promote these unique neighborhoods, 500 Communities is already having an impact.
Shelly Parks arrived in the program with extensive experience in marketing for conventional senior communities. With Katie’s support, and that of her 500 Communities peers, she completed the training program in 2017 and is now busy helping communities find their neighbors and pull together the human and financial resources needed. She’s especially excited about a project in Anacortes, WA, where she and husband, Charles, will make their home.
Roger Studley arrived with a masters degree in Economics and experience in research, data and project management. His 500 Communities learnings have been poured into non-profit Urban Moshav, creating Jewish community. His latest success is in Berkeley where they purchased a site in November.
Other affiliates include Megan Shea, a long time communitarian now serving on the board of CohoUS, and John Caye,
a founding member of C Street Village in Marin now acquiring land to develop Marin’s second cohousing community. Sarah Arthurs in Canada and Eugenie Stockmann in Australia add to the international flavor of the group.
Katie loves supporting professionals as they learn the lessons she learned through hard experience. She remembers the challenges of her first cohousing project back in 1990 working with Charles Durrett. They were just beginning to get the word out about cohousing, and she had just discovered she was pregnant. The path to Doyle Street cohousing included neighborhood opposition and a fight in city council to overturn a denial of project approval, the withdrawal of a developer over financial resources, the loss of nearly half the committed members, many tears, a ton of hard work, and a lot of learning about development. In the end, Katie raised her daughter in that community and carried her learnings forward to 60 more communities so far.
“I learned development the hard way.” she says, “It was from experiences like that I learned how to ask people to invest money in an early stage project, what real commitment looks like, how to partner with developers, what it takes to build a successful project, and how much money people can walk away from.
When we started developing cohousing three decades ago, we were creating both the market and systems for cohousing in North America. No one had heard of cohousing back then, so no one was interested in living in it. But now, here we are in 2020, with over 160 communities built in the US, and more than 100 in process”
As she mentors the next generation of professionals they benefit from her many years of experience. As they run into their own difficult moments, she’s there to guide them, and to help them guide each other. It is a beautiful blend of hard-earned wisdom with new energy and innovation bringing the full potential of cohousing to the US and beyond.
For more information about the 500 Communities Program, join Katie McCamant for a live webinar on Monday, February 24
, at 5:00pm PST. Click the Link Below to register.