It’s no secret that we love coliving. This Forbes article takes a look at a long established co-living community and the unforeseen benefits, friendships and connectivity fostered by sharing space with others.
Shared living: tearing down the walls between families and communities
Raines Cohen jokes that he’s still the “new kid on the block,” even after more than a decade in his Berkeley Cohousing community.
Cohen and the approximately 30 other people in the Berkeley, Calif., community celebrate birthdays together and share three community meals each week. They join together for regular movie nights and concerts; they come together for occasional work parties and building projects. They celebrate births, marriages and graduations, and they support each other through illnesses and deaths of family members.
It’s that sense of close-knit community that makes the Berkeley Cohousing community—and scores of others like it—so appealing to residents.
“You get to know your neighbors and connect lives,” Cohen says. “We inspire and support each other.”
Cohousing, sometimes called co-living or intentional communities, prioritizes sustainable living and shared community while placing an equal value on privacy.
“Humans thrive in such an environment,” says Alice Alexander, executive director of the Cohousing Association of the United States (Coho/US). “Cohousing allows us to support each other in sharing life’s challenges and also allows us to celebrate together the joys of life.”
An international trend on the rise
Cohousing communities attract a diverse population: young professionals and retirees, single people and families, entrepreneurs and artists. Some communities are multigenerational, while others cater to a specific population, such as seniors, singles or families.
Co-living communities exist in both rural and urban environments and can include small, single-family homes with shared community spaces or condo-style buildings with smaller private spaces connected to communal space. Some cohousing communities incorporate an integrated model with both residential and commercial space within the community. It’s part of an international trend that can be traced back to Denmark.
In the 1960s, Danish families began using cohousing as a way to share childcare responsibilities. Hundreds of cohousing communities now exist throughout the world, each with its own individual character.
There’s a yoga community in Big Island, Hawaii; a mixed-use apartment building with commercial and residential facilities in southern California; an ecological and artistic community near Lima, Peru; and a sustainable living co-op in the mountains of western North Carolina.
For all their differences, cohousing communities share a few common characteristics. Each offers a balance of private and common space designed specifically to encourage community interaction. Residents in the community make decisions together in a collaborative process. Typically homes are designed to be environmentally friendly and residents share certain community resources, such as tools or office equipment.
Common spaces typically include guest rooms, laundry facilities, large kitchens and dining areas, recreational facilities and libraries. Some communities have common gardens, walking trails and even shared farms. Many co-living spaces include a co-working space for those who telecommute.
Sharing such resources is one of the biggest benefits of co-living, says Chelsea Rustrum, a sharing economy advocate, marketing consultant and author of the upcoming book, It’s A Sharable Life.
“People can share cars, meals, food and the luxury of more communal space like gourmet kitchens, large living rooms, movie theaters, big backyards, hot tubs, craft rooms and co-working offices,” she says.
With his own passion for cohousing, Cohen serves as a cohousing coach, helping others navigate the intricacies of communal living. He works with existing communities, assists those who want to start a new community and provides guidance for individuals looking for a community to join.
And, he can help work out those age-old arguments that are bound to come about when people live in close community.
“Of course people have a wonderful variety of personalities and styles, so we train together and build capacity to work together and communicate well,” Cohen says.
The ultimate goal is to help communities thrive so that, as Rustrom observes, “you have a community to back you up—not only a stable living environment, but a group of people who support you in your personal growth, goals, business or career and in your life.”
Image from Forbes original article post. Link below.
To see the full article from Forbes, click HERE.