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The biggest cohousing Unknown for me involves the people management. Managing spaces and resources is one thing, but managing people and personalities is something else entirely. I asked about that when I went to the local cohousing community informational meeting (before they actually broke ground) and the rep couldn’t really answer my questions at the time. That’s what I want to know more about: how do we manage different expectations and different personalities to create a community that works over the long haul?
I haven’t found an answer to that yet, but I appreciated reading the perspective on communal child rearing provided by Coming of age in cohousing: Growing up communally brings exposure to the world of adults—and lessons in interdependence from Curbed.com.
The article paints a fairly rosy picture of children who grow up within a community of many adults who in small and large ways act in parenting roles, and how that helped them to become well rounded and adventurous adults. Yes, you can create that kind of community without communal living, but it seems harder. You have to travel farther and ask more actively.
For example, I know many parents with young children for whom I would be willing to act as a supplementary parent figure, but it is much less convenient if they have to pack up kid things and drive them 4 miles across town to my house. Or for me to set aside my evening gardening plans so I can go to their house. What if our houses were across a courtyard instead? That sounds rather idyllic to me, like the community of adults who watched over us when I was a child gallivanting with my friends around a portion of my suburban neighborhood. That’s what I would want if I had kids.
Ultimately I’m curious about this from the perspective of aging and independence. How feasible is it for elderly people to live co-dependently in this sort of setting versus in assisted living, for example? I feel like living co-dependently in a community with many different aged people would be more interesting than an assisted living situation, and housing experiments in other parts of the world suggest that cross-generational relationships help us age better.
That’s where I’ll leave it for now. It’s a good article. Check it out.