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Published by jenny.godwin, 2016-12-01 13:32:59

Sac Parent Cohousing Dec 2016

Sac Parent Cohousing Dec 2016

Is a Cohousing Community for You?

By Jenny Godwin, CoHousing Solutions

“There’s an ease to socializing in cohousing,”
Chris says. “Not only does our son,

August have positive reinforcement from other
adults, there’s this beautiful awareness that my
wife Caroline and I, and many other parents, are
all on board and invested in this community’s kids.”

Chris and Caroline were in an audience by the community you live in,
with 150 others for a cohousing presen- it’s that much easier to keep
tation put on by Katie McCamant and to your beliefs and be a little
Chuck Durrett, the parents of the U.S. freer with your kids, too.”
cohousing movement. Interest swelled
at the idea of building an old-fashioned, Learning to socialize well
community-first neighborhood of
private homes with generous common with peers and adults in your
facilities. Nevada City Cohousing has a
pool, hot tub, community gardens, and neighborhood can bring shy
bike sheds on its property, with a spa-
cious kitchen, eating area, a kids room, kids out of their shell. Gene-
guest rooms and a yoga room all in the
Common House. vieve’s fiancé (now husband)

Caroline discovered she was pregnant had a very shy child when he
on the day they moved into their new
home in cohousing, “It all gelled at that first moved to cohousing and
moment.” August, now nine, has thrived
growing up in this tight-knit, intergener- now his social skills have blos-
ational neighborhood.
somed. “He felt accepted and
the kids were so welcoming.
Moving can be overwhelming, “Here we
felt instantly plugged in. We found ev- So many familiar people are Photo courtesy of CoHousing Solutions
erything from recommendations about
pediatricians and dog sitters to where talking to you, interested in you.” August puts in his share, too. “I usually
to get your car fixed,” Chris says. Plus,
there was built-in encouragement from “You’ll laugh at this one,” Genevieve join a committee on workdays. Some-
neighbor families. “We could glean re- says, setting a block of wooden track times I spread mulch or use the lawn-
al-time info from other parents, and had into place for son Luke’s train to glide by mower. We have a day when the whole
a natural support system right away.” on. “I had to put locks on my doors so community plants flowers, too.”

As Sheri, a Nevada City Cohousing resi- my kids wouldn’t run out of the house That lively neighborhood culture was
dent of seven years puts it, “There’s a vil- half-naked and without shoes to go play also something that drew Sheri and Jerry
lage parenting culture here. When your with their friends in the morning. And to cohousing. They attended communi-
parenting philosophy can be supported there’s certainly no place I’d rather be. ty-formation meetings with a one-month
This is what I’d want for every parent.” old baby, driving from their home in

COHOUSING’S UPKEEP: Tahoe; a very “transitional” place. Having
FOSTERING COMMUNITY grown-up in a cul-de-sac playing games
late into the evenings, Sheri imagined
The thirty-four households in Nevada the same carefree childhood for her kids,
City Cohousing played an active role in “Everything from someone watching
determining what amenities they wanted your sleeping baby to not having to cook
in their neighborhood. In turn, most a few nights a week. At common meals,
residents are active on committees to your kids are busy and you can socialize
ensure everything—from landscaping to with other adults. It’s such a gift!”
HOA finances to common meals—runs
smoothly. Continued on page 23 DECEMBER 2016 21

Chris and August, courtesy of CoHousing Solutions Getting the green light from Do you dream of a neighborhood...
someone they looked up to was
Cohousing continued from page 21 powerful.

In cohousing there’s a “blend-
Based on a monthly cooking rotation ing of adult and kid culture.” To
between the households, meals at Neva- August, his community offers a
da City Cohousing are typically available chance to learn from neighbors
in the common house four to five times his age, up to those in their 90s.
a week. Rick, a former resident of Muir His parents feel comfortable
Commons in Davis, CA raised his two letting a neighbor know they’ll
daughters in cohousing. As they grew up, be out, and then August has a
common meal prep was something they point person in case he needs
could do as a family. something. This freedom and
familiarity means kids can gain
He fondly remembers seeing them independence early on.
talking comfortably with neighbors of
all ages. It was “like an extended family” For Genevieve, who returned
because of the constant overlap in every- to Nevada City Cohousing after
one’s lives. Common meals and commu- two years away, the experience gave her
nity events meant bumping into nearly perspective. “Almost immediately—pret-
everyone on a weekly basis. ty much from the moment my family
arrived in San Francisco—I missed having
Sheri sees the benefits of that intersec- that community always there. I said,
tionality in her boys’ lives, too. From What were we thinking?”
thanking the cook and clearing their
plates after common meals to acting August’s family is one whose move here
as role models for younger kids, she hinged on their cohousing passion. “If
watched their social skills evolve. “A kid a friend asked me where I lived, I’d say
really learns how to be a person here.” In it’s like a really small city, a little village,”
a snapshot from every parent’s fantasy, he says. There are over 160 established
her boys would sit with older children at communities in 25 states, and nearly that
common meals and eat “big kid foods.” many in the formation stages.

To find a community or start your
own, visit the website of the U.S. Co-
housing Association, www.cohousing.
org. The latest cohousing in-progress
locally is 18 miles east of downtown
Sacramento on the American River,
and actively looking for others to join
them. Learn about Fair Oaks EcoHous-
ing at DECEMBER 2016 23

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