Re: Built Spaces for Children
From: Joani Blank (
Date: Mon, 29 Sep 1997 16:41:35 -0500

While I do appreciate your suggestions, here's a place where I must respond
that cohousing is really different from any single house. 

An area adjacent to the dining area that is not acoustically separate from
the dining area would be a disaster in any but the most tiny of
communities, i.e. 5-6 adults and 3-4 kids.  Doyle St. is almost the
smallest cohousing community in N. America (12 households) and because we
are so urban, we have only four little kids with one more on the way.
Berkeley with 14 households has 10 children. And the communities with 25-40
households have between 25-40 children.

It is a good idea, if feasible to have the playroom for young kids be
adjacent to the dining area preferably with a glass door and even one or
two windows so that parents who want to keep their very little ones in
sight can do so while enjoying their dinner.

However,  the way things go in most cohousing communities is that there is
always at least one slightly or significantly older child or an adult
--sometimes a whole bunch of kids--who will be delighted to hang out with
your kid,(s), and even the most alert parent usually gets comfortable
pretty quickly with considerably less direct supervision of his or her kid
than he/she was accustomed to before living in cohousing. 

An example. A prospective family for Old Oakland was having dinner here at
Doyle Street. Several times during dinner when their 5 year old was off
playing with "our" kids, one or the other parent started to turn their
attention to their kid, and after the fifth or sixth time realized that
they didn't have to do that, It wasn't just that Seth was hanging out with
our kids, but that many other adults were paying some degree of attention
to all of the kids as they came and went. They were also impressed when
"our" five year old approached the visiting mom to ask if it was okay for
Seth to have a popsicle before getting one for each of them from the freezer. 

Joani Blank
Doyle St and Old Oakland (Swan's Market) CoHousings. (SF Bay Area, CA)
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