RE: Introduction - Design to enhance community
From: Rob Sandelin (Exchange) (
Date: Mon, 9 Sep 1996 10:46:39 -0500
Regarding the commons, the key element from my experience in living in 
cohousing for five years is the ability to see from  the inside of the 
house to a gathering place or other common focal point.  The village 
green setup works fine, as long as there are picnic tables or benches 
so people can sit and talk, be seen from some of the houses, so others 
can join them.  In our area the commonhouse activity tends to be pretty 
much planned events like dinners, etc, unplanned events happen much 
less in the common house but unplanned socializing happens all the time 
along the road, or at the tables in front of the commonhouse.

One idea might be to divide the village green into "garden sittings" 
with a nicely landscaped areas, with benches/tables, connected visually 
to several houses and connected by path to another garden sittings that 
is visually connected to other houses, etc. etc. A large green space is 
nice, but does not attract people unless there are focal points.

At Sharingwood, the typical informal gathering seems to be about 5-6 
people max. A couple people sit and start talking, 3-4 others join 
them. If I were planning another community I would create outside 
spaces that 6 people could sit at, which could be seen from several 

Rob Sandelin
Sharingwood Cohousing
Northwest Intentional Communities Association

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