CoHousing Solutions Newsletter | August 2019
“I can remember years ago, touring some of the very first cohousing communities in the US.

People had asked me to come see the good work they were doing on energy conservation, but I was immediately struck by the fact that there was so much more going on.

Indeed, the story of cohousing is not the story of energy conservation at all, it’s the story of energy generation, the kind of human energy that we badly need at this turn in the history of our country” 
-Bill McKibben
Above is an excerpt of the forward written by Bill McKibben in the book Creating Cohousing: Building Sustainable Communities, which Katie McCamant coauthored.

When Bill first saw cohousing he was struck by the same phenomenon that Katie had been marveling over for years; people creating sustainability and community within their own neighborhood, and then using that energy to influence the way they interact with the outside world.

It seems that wherever there is a cohousing community, there is an army of people ready to jump into volunteer positions, participate in local politics, and support sustainability in the larger community. Cohousing neighborhoods tend to be homes to people like Geof Syhpers, Bryan Bowan, Desiree Kameka, and Courtney Martin (as mentioned below) who have dedicated themselves to the greater good. We have been wondering for while, is our bias showing or are cohousers really that much more involved than the average person?

Our hypothesis were confirmed by a recent study from the Cohousing Research Network which found that cohousers really are more involved than the average person. Take a look below at their findings from comparing the political engagement of cohousers versus residents of traditional condos:
The Cohousing Research Network even found that cohousers' political and civic engagement increased the longer they lived in cohousing neighborhoods and the closer they were with their neighbors.

Katie believes this is both because cohousing attracts pro-active people who care about the environment, and because living in a community tends to encourage people to take action - whether that is attending a city council meeting or volunteering at their kid's school. Many cohousers talk about how their involvement within their cohousing neighborhood has given them the skills and confidence to increase their activity and participation within the larger community. Who can resist attending a city council meeting when your neighbor says "we need you down there speaking about this issue, and I'll watch your kid"? (something that was actually said to Katie).

Bill McKibben's first impression of cohousing was accurate, communities really are generating energy for the greater good.

Someone who truly embodies this energy is Bryan Bowen. He is an accomplished architect who has found his niche in designing cohousing communities. His work includes Germantown Commons, Silver Sage Village, Lyons Valley Village, 30+Pearl, and Wild Sage Cohousing where he has lived with his family for 15 years. He is dedicated to the design of buildings and neighborhoods that explore how we may live more lightly on our earth in beautiful and healthy environments. He brings this focus to the City of Boulder where he is the Chair of the City Planning Board, as well as sitting on the Design Advisory board and Housing Advisory Board. We got to talk to Bryan about how living in cohousing effects the work he does, and how he interacts with the larger community:
Cohousers Making an Impact
Geof Syphers
Geof and his wife were one of the 4 founding households of Frogsong Cohousing in Cotati, California. Geof always knew that he wanted to have a career in sustainability, and got started with solar energy right out of college when he became a solar consultant. Now, he is the CEO of Sonoma Clean Energy, an electric power company offering clean energy to its customers, as an alternative to PGE. The company sources clean energy from it's local solar panels, geothermal plants, and wind power from a farm in the Altamont Pass. Only a short 5 years after offering clean energy to Sonoma and Mendocino county residents, it now has 87% of its eligible customer base. When it comes to reducing our carbon footprint Geoff leads by example, from installing solar panels into his own eco-friendly cohousing community, to creating a new standard of energy consumption within his county.
Desiree Kameka
Although Desiree does not live in a cohousing community, she is an active participant in the professional world of cohousing and is a recent graduate of our 500 Communities Program. She is the Director of Community Education and Advocacy for the Madison House Autism Foundation where she focuses on researching housing issues, advocating with organizations, families, and autistic adults on housing issues. She sees cohousing as an ideal housing option for families with autistic family members, where autistic children can learn independence in a safe community, and their families have easy socializing opportunities.Thanks to Desiree, t he Autism Housing Network has incorporated cohousing into their presentations and resources in order to educate adults on the autism spectrum and neurodiverse families on the cohousing movement. Most recently, a mini-market analysis in Colorado that incorporated a survey to understand residential demand and preferences of neurodiverse families indicated that 50% of survey respondents said cohousing is a preferred property type!

"I am excited to continue to work towards increasing neurodiversity in cohousing!"
Courtney Martin
Courtney Martin is an author, entrepreneur, and facilitator. She and her family live in Temescal Commons Cohousing in Oakland, CA. She has written/edited five books, including  The New Better Off: Reinventing the American Dream and  Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists. She writes frequently for The New York Times BRIGHT Magazine , and The On Being Project, among other publications. Her TED talks have been watched over 3.5M times. In many of her publications Courtney talks about her experience living in a cohousing community. She frequently touches on how the energy created within cohousing communities has the power to effect the outside world. During her key note speech at the 2019 National Cohousing Conference, she gave this idea a name; "sacred abundance". Here is an excerpt from her speech:

"Cohousing's magic is its capacity to put us in touch with sacred abundance. There is enough. That is so counter cultural, so antithetical to our time. There is enough, there is always enough. . . . If we (cohousers) know that there is sacred abundance and caring beyond the walls of our own homes, then we logically know that there is sacred abundance and caring beyond the fences and gates and blackberry bushes of our own communities. There is enough, there has to be, but how do we make that real?"

She went on to speak about how her cohousing neighborhood has offered their "sacred abundance" to the surrounding community by providing "radical hospitality" to anyone who steps through their gate, and opening up their common house to any groups looking for meeting or event space. Courtney is at the head of the trend when it comes to rethinking the way that millennials and younger generations will house themselves. And she is advocating on a large scale for a return to "village living" for the greater good.
We Want to Hear From You!
We want to hear your stories. Has cohousing influenced the way that you interact with the outside world? Is there someone in your community doing great work? Are you someone who does not yet live in a cohousing community but is drawn to it for a specific reason?

Please respond to this email with your stories, opinions, and insights!
We're Here to Help!
We provide development consulting services to help you create your sustainable neighborhood . Our team pioneered the development of cohousing in North America, and we have helped create dozens of successful communities.
Our newest venture involves training passionate cohousing entrepreneurs through the year-long 500 Communities Program .
Photo by Ed Asmus
Architecture by McCamant & Durrett Architects
CoHousing Solutions
(530) 478-1970
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