Llewellyn's 1994 Organic Gardening Almanac
From: Jim Salem (salemexa.com)
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 93 11:25 CDT
   > Date: Mon, 12 Jul 93 08:20 CDT
   > From: apguirard [at] mmm.com
   > >  Our intent is to provide some examples of cohousing groups that
   > >  are pursuing or planning sustainable practices as group
   > >  objectives.  From what I've read on the list, there seems to be
   > >  a lot of groups with an interest in sustainable development.
   > There seem to me to be two distinct styles of cohousing, urban and
   > rural.  The rural style seems a lot more to me like the commune 
   > concept than the urban groups, who seem more interested in building 
   > a small-town type of community while remaining close to their place of
   > employment and other urban attractions.  The former, I think, are the  
   > ones really interested in sustainable development.

Thanks for asking such a provocative question!

I am a member of New View, a suburban cohousing group.  Naturally, we fall
inbetween the urban and rural "styles."  A few observations:

While not self-sufficient, many households have a commitment towards some
sustainable technologies.  The community will share a large garden.  
While in practice the town and state laws require us to build a community
septic system, a number of households will use compositing toilets
(unfortunately, it is illegal to apply the compost they generate to our
gardens or land!).  I expect a few solar installations.

A prime attraction of our location is the good school system.  These days,
the best schools seem to be concentrated in the suburbs.

My partner Sue and I came to cohousing after studying and visiting a number
of intentional communities and communes.  I saw much of the tension in them
caused by lack of privacy and lack of money.  This made suburban cohousing
seem like an interesting compromise to try.  Perhaps another attraction is
that it culturally matches our suburban upbringing.

I've always been a bit disappointed that we're taking open land and building
new housing rather than rehabbing an older development.  That practice is
not sustainable.  Unfortunately, the housing system is much more geared to
new development than rehabs.  I'm sure even the rural groups must wrestle
with this. 

-- jim

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