Event Summary: Takeaways from #CohoCon2019

by Lynn Gaffney

As noted in our social media and the recent video blog posts, I attended the National Cohousing Conference in Portland in early June. It was a great success thanks to CohoUS. If you weren’t able to attend, here’s a brief summary of the event’s activities and attractions, in no particular order –

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Put a bird on it.

The branding, graphics, and user-friendly website of the event itself were modern, accessible, and trending.

Exploring Portland, OR

Everyone loves a reason to visit Portland with its food trucks, walkability, bridges, rose gardens, and just its cool factor. In addition there are many intentional communities to visit.

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Touring Local Cohousing Communities

The residents of the local cohousing communities welcomed the busloads and were generous in sharing their experiences and their homes. PDX Commons senior cohousing was thoughtfully designed and the community was engaging and excited to share why they love living there.

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Attending Workshops and Talks

The program was full, varied, well organized with three main categories of talks – Build It, Live It, Sustain It. My days were full with presentations about urban cohousing, creating affordability and income diversity in cohousing, cohousing friendly regulations, digital toolbox marketing, roles and opportunities to age in community, and getting the most out of cohousing professionals.

Connecting with 500 Communities

I attended the conference with many of my 500 Communities Program colleagues, many of whom were presenters. Our mentor Katie McCamant arranged a special all-day session for us at PDX Commons – hearing from four cohousing and intentional community developers, all with a different approach.

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Networking and Learning

There was ample time to network. I took this opportunity to interview other professionals about their best lessons learned in designing, developing, or facilitating the cohousing process; to interview residents about their happiest surprise in living in cohousing; and to interview prospective residents on their hopes and their group’s process thus far, if they were already associated with a group. Check out our other blog posts for more of these videos.

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Getting Inspired with the Keynote Speaker

Courtney Martin was such an inspiration. I’d been a fan of her written work and listened to her Ted Talk. As keynote, Courtney weaved her personal connection to cohousing beautifully through a children’s book called The Extra Yarn.


The next national Cohousing Conference will be in 2021 – keep in touch with
CohoUS to find out the details.