Posts Tagged ‘Cohousing’

While we were looking for a house to buy, a one-level-not-so-big house, the pandemic happened. Our priorities shifted. We cherished our group of neighbors, we exchanged books and bread. On occasional Fridays, we’d meet in someone’s carport for cocktails. Bob and I hosted a gathering in our garden under a tulip magnolia. We all stayed 10 ft apart and brought our own drinks.

Gradually, the Bride and Groom’s doctor pod became our pod.

The Grands attended virtual school with another medical family, sharing a nanny who filmed a music video with a “cool nana.” We had TWO pods! Our family plus pod meant we could hang out OUTSIDE with them; our traveling historic neighborhood pod continued to meet outside. Then vaccines happened, we invited the doubly vaccinated outside pod INSIDE! Bob and I started on the hunt for horizontal living once again.

It turns out our little neighborhood happens to have a co-housing development just a few blocks away. Over the last few years, we’ve gotten to know some of the residents – it’s a fun, diverse group of all ages. Buying a condo in their unit would mean committing to a communal dinner every now and then, among some other responsibilities. I mean, this was right up Bob’s alley! And their condos were affordable too.

We were seriously thinking about purchasing a co-housing home, but the only unit available was up two flights of outside stairs.

I believe the pandemic has affected my generation in a special way. Not that we want to have separate spaces in our homes for family and the general public, like my last piece mentioned: https://mountainmornings.net/2021/10/18/home-for-a-handmaid/

No, we Boomers realize how essential our connections are, that as we age, loneliness can become debilitating. Maybe it’s easier for us to visualize a future where the Covid vaccine gets wrapped up in our yearly flu vaccine? Maybe we’re more aware of how fragile our lives have become….

Like Captain Kirk going up into space. You’re wrapped up in a beautiful blue cocoon here on earth until POP, you pierce the shell and enter total darkness. One of our good friends has also decided to pack up and move across the country to be closer to her children. Zoom calls can only do so much. My thoughts turned back to co-housing, what if we could get all our friends plus our kids to create the ideal, utopian co-housing community?

Co-housing sounds confusingly similar to co-living but has a whole different vibe. Co-housers aren’t transient. They have a much stickier idea of social affiliation, and they’re not about to rent a bedroom in some random complex. To draw even finer distinctions: Co-housing communities are not communes. Residents do not give up financial privacy any more than they give up domestic privacy. They have their own bank accounts and commute to ordinary jobs. If you were lucky enough to grow up on a friendly cul-de-sac, you’re in range of the idea, except that you don’t have to worry about your child being hit by a car as she plays in the street. A core principle of co-housing is that cars should be parked on a community’s periphery.”


You also don’t have to worry about some weird neighbor setting out bear traps on his property because he doesn’t want kids in his yard.

The author Judith Shulevitz, of the above NYTimes Opinion article, “Is This the Cure for the Loneliness of American Motherhood,” speaks to how abandoned she felt giving birth in the suburbs. Lots of cars and no sidewalks to stroll a baby. And even when she and her husband moved back to NYC, to try and find community, she realized the neighbors in their building were not very friendly. When she tried to chat someone up in the elevator, the response was, “You’re not from around here, are you?”

A co-housing community would be especially helpful for young families seeking a “shared life.” In fact, Shulevitz began looking into the 165 co-housing developments across the country; while most are semi-rural or suburban, she found a group in the East Village that is vertical. In a post-pandemic world, she feels we may be at a tipping point in the American way of life.

Lots of office buildings across the country may continue to stand empty. What if a developer were to turn them into co-housing condos? Also, if we finally pass a Build Back Better Bill, we could be on the cusp of eliminating homelessness, and/or making housing more affordable. Granted, I’m not holding my breath, our democracy is also at a tipping point. But most importantly perhaps, it’s time to build up our social network!

“The third force that could push us to change our way of life is a heightened awareness of isolation. In a 2020 survey by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, one-third of Americans described themselves as seriously lonely — up from one-fifth before the Covid pandemic. Loneliness is now understood as a public health crisis, ranking as high among risk factors for mortality as heavy smoking, drinking and obesity.”

The Flapper lived close to her Mother, my Nana, and multiple aunts. She told me once that everyone always came over to our house in Scranton after church on Sundays. Before my Father got sick, there was a big Sunday supper, and cards to be played. Co-housing – turns out it’s not such a new idea actually.

We have an open door policy around here

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