How to bring cohousers together: 5 ideas to make the community more engaging — LESSONS FROM #COHOCON2019

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 Colleen M., a cohousing president at PDX Commons, who retired from California State University, Fresno, as a reference and acquisition librarian. Now she applies her librarian experience to PDX Commons’ in-house library to enrich cohousers’ daily life. Watch the video below to learn about Colleen’s experience bringing cohousers together through book sharing.


Colleen’s experience inspired us to share five ideas regarding:

How cohousers can collaborate to create more engagement

The fun part is the rotating.
— Colleen M.
  1. Host a book club or book swap.

    Book clubs can be a great way to bring cohousers together. Instead of simply collecting books and placing them in a library, have a party! Ask people to bring books that they're contributing to the collection and explain why. This should bring more fun into reading and sharing.

  2. Have shared meals with themes from everyone's different backgrounds or interests. 

    For example, maybe you have a “Nautical Night” where the veteran in your group shares some historical books that he enjoyed while out on the sea. When you gather people with different backgrounds, you will be surprised by the stories and knowledge that gets shared. It’s good to encourage each person to tell the group why they found a particular book interesting. Host the event with small meals or hors d'oeuvres to help people feel more relaxed.

  3. Have community-led workshops on different hobby areas.

    Workshops can help strengthen your community’s connection and fosters engagement. Host a workshop based around a cohouser’s hobby. Perhaps the former florist in your group can do a workshop around creating floral arrangements. This can help you get to know your other cohousers and their interests better.

  4. Create a shared tools library for hobbies from woodworking to gardening to knitting.

    In addition to a book library, support your cohousers in their pursuit of learning new hobbies by creating a shared tools library. This could be a place where cohousers have access to knitting needles, woodworking tools, etc. Create a sign in and out sheet. All the knowledge cohousers love and need will be there waiting for them.

  5. Community-led field trips/outings.

    Field trips can always be a good way to create new memories for you and your cohousers. Pick a location your community might be interested in, and explore together. Or, encourage people to share the places they love and leading the community to visit. It could be a great way to know your group members more and discover new and exciting places.

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For more cohousing stories, click here to learn more about how a cohousing community tightens connections between residents with different generations.