Re: Neighbours
From: Douglas Simons (dougthoughtful.com)
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 01:46:46 -0500
Hello,

Several recent posts have tempted me to jump in, so here goes.  (no,  
this isn't more on spirituality, although that thread has been  
interesting reading :-)

Perhaps this is pushing the limits of this forum a bit, but I'd like  
to broaden the discussion a little beyond the strictest definitions  
of "cohousing". 


I was involved earlier this year with a local cohousing project which  
has just begun construction.  It's a wonderful project, and I look  
forward to seeing it built, but my wife and I are no longer involved.   
There were several reasons why we withdrew.  The main ones were:
    1. Expense -- our monthly payments would have been significantly  
higher than they are now.
    2. Our House -- is a lovely old victorian with plenty of room for  
my home office.
    3. Location -- our home is in an older neighborhood right in  
town, within walking/bicycling distance of schools, parks, the  
library, the university, the hospital, and downtown.
    4. A gnawing feeling that there really ought to be some way for  
us to experience a greater sense of community in our lives without  
having to build new houses to do it.
    

The last point is the one I'd really like to pursue some more.  It  
seems there is a tremendous need to enhance the sense of  
"neighborliness" and community within existing neighborhoods.

I like the cohousing model, and I'm all in favor of seeing new  
neighborhoods designed and built that way, but I'd also like to  
explore ideas for "evolving" existing neighborhoods.  I understand N  
Street came about this way (I'll try to get hold of Stuart  
Staniford-Chen's article).  Are there any others?

Is it possible to form a true "cohousing" neighborhood this way (ie,  
with common kitchen/dining facilities, other common facilities,  
etc.)?  Are there other models we might explore along the way?  It  
seems to me that there is a whole continuum of possibilities ranging  
from where we are now (know about half of our neighbors, share a  
lawnmower with 2 other households) to cohousing and beyond.

If I want to "evolve" my neighborhood, what is the first step?  It  
seems strange, but in many ways building a new project feels like an  
easier way to build a community.  The effort of the project itself  
gives everyone something in common (beyond, of course, the fact that  
everyone involved was drawn by the idea of community in the first  
place).  The notion of approaching my existing neighbors (even the  
ones that I know) with grandiose ideas for reshaping the neighborhood  
is a little scary.

I know, I know... I suppose I should start with something simple,  
like a barbeque -- but I'm not much of a backyard chef (or any other  
kind, for that matter).  Just wondering whether any of you have  
thoughts on the subject, or are making efforts to build community  
in-place, or would like to explore such ideas further.

Sorry for rambling at such length when the traffic here is so thick  
already, but -- hey -- the time seemed right.  Especially since one  
of the houses across the street from us is for sale (it's a 4BR,  
3Bath with 2-car garage on a corner lot, probably built in the 60's  
-- I think they're asking $127,900 for it) -- anyone care to join the  
neighborhood?

Cheers,

Doug Simons
"Locust Street Neighborhood" (existing / in early stages of  
formation)
Fort Collins, Colorado

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