Cooperative Living in Cohousing Community to Benefits Your Daily Life

The recent CohoCon (National Cohousing Conference) brought together cohousing residents, architects, builders, and consultants to talk about the present and future states of the industry. We were so inspired by all of the different people we met throughout the event, that we wanted to bring back some of their insights. Over the next few weeks, look out for videos from the conference both here and on our social media pages.

We interviewed Karen, a cohousing president at Cully Grove, who is a planner, an organizer and a landscaping designer in the group. The cohousing experience enriches her life; she contributes to the group with her professional expertise while also learning a ton from other cohousers. Karen shares with us, how she has benefited from the help of others in the cohousing community.

How do you and your fellow cohousers contribute to and participate in your community?

The following is a transcript of the video interview with Karen, lightly edited for clarity.

I'm a planner and an organizer. I kind of defaulted into the position of scheduling all of our communal meals and making sure people sign up to take responsibility for that. We have one monthly potluck, so I send out a little notice at the beginning of the year, and then I send reminders when it's close. Then we've got one community meal, which basically is two families making all the food for everyone. And again, I'm the person who makes sure that people sign up, and during the school year. In the summertime, we're more kind of free form because people are away a lot.

We also have a work party once a month on Saturday morning; it's for three hours. Most of that work is doing some form of landscape maintenance and building projects. I am not really a skilled landscape gardener sort of person, but there are tons of people who are. So I learn how to do things. It's been really empowering what we've made here together and how much it's grown and filled in over the six years that we've all been here. So, I really benefit from other people's expertise in terms of what I get to look at every day outside of my windows.

And then we have a pretty cool thing which is the after-work party on the third Saturday. One of the moms of the residents were paid to come and make food for us. It used to be we made a potluck, but it was really hard to do it after work. So she, for whatever reason, decided it was her mission to feed us all for the party. So, that's our third monthly meal. And then we have ad hoc things as well as community celebrations. I schedule all of that and make sure that we're just getting together socially and to celebrate. We're all expected to do the work party and then also do some other form of service for the community. Some people serve on the board. We really rotate around with that. 

Then, there are tons of other committees. There's a water reading committee, I'm on that. There's a committee that manages the common house, so we make decisions about furnishings and policies related to that. If you're interested in bikes, you can be on the bike committee. If you're a technology person, you can be on the tech committee. There's a way for everyone to use their expertise to make the community a better place and to just be functional and running.

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For more cohousing stories, click here to learn more insights from other experienced residents and how a cohousing community tightens connections between residents with different backgrounds.