Intergenerational Cohousing: An Alternative for Active Seniors — 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.

In this video, we spoke to Spencer Beard, a founding member of Capitol Hill Urban Cohousing, an intergenerational urban community that commits to sustainable living on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. Spencer shares to us about his experience of being an intergenerational cohousing resident and how it benefits his life.

We asked Spencer: What drew you to intergenerational rather than senior cohousing?

HOW AN INTERGENERATIONAL COHOUSING COMMUNITY CAN SUPPORT EACH GROUP MEMBER FROM CHILDREN TO THE ELDERS

The following is a transcript of our interview with Spencer, lightly edited for clarity.

My life has always been around working with kids. I was a teacher in elementary school for 25 years and so that's been a big thing. My wife and I never had children, so having children around has been important to me. Personally, having a community where there are children brings more life to the community. And we're sitting around, and something's always happening. Some kids having some kind of fun game, in the courtyard or they're having problems with some kind of homework or something. There's some way I can do, or I can help with babysitting, there are ways for me to be involved in the kids' lives.

And more to the point, comparing it to the senior cohousing is that in our community, we've got a range of ages of people, from the kids on through the younger adults to older adults. And that means there are people around who are more capable, able to do stuff, that if I was in senior cohousing, I'd probably be one of the younger people to do so because I'm only 66. As I get older I'm already getting places where it's like, "I just don't want to get up on that ladder", and if it was all senior people, then I'm going to have to get on a ladder. As it is in our group, even though we got a mix of ages, the kids are going to disappear in 20 years. If this group of people stays together for 20 years. If we don't turn over, we will be a community without children. So we're going to have to be facing what it's like as we are actually moving more of us into the senior space, and that's a thing we're going to deal with anyway.

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Cohousing is a wonderful way to bring together different generations; to learn more, click here for a blog post about the benefits of intergenerational cohousing.