Aging in Place, cohousing definitions
From: mark a demaio (
Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999 17:25:37 -0600
At Concord Oasis Ecohousing(CA), the downstairs portion of of our new
building will house our first true common areas and a guest/ elder suite.
The downstairs will be handicap friendly, although possibly not in strict
compliance w/ ADA requirements. We have sized for 36-38 RO doors, low
thresholds,  plenty of turning room in the bath with bars at the tub,
One of the major criteria of environmental design is that buildings need
to be flexibly constructed so that minimal demolition needs to occur as
the use, user, or users needs change, allowing structures and facilities
to grow and change over time.  Due to the fact that we had a tough time
in our area developing a committed core group, we were encouraged by a
group facilitator a few years back to take a "build it and they will
come" approach to expansion along an N-Street organic infill development
model. That is exactly what we are doing with our mini-Ecohousing Seed
Source. So although I read the list, I tend to spend more time hammering
nails than keyboards. Our project is becoming quite a beatiful, flexible
canvas for a group or individuals to paint the picture of their lives in
community onto.  This might be called the committed small owner builder/
project proponent development model of planting a mini-cohousing seed
source within an existing neighborhood- quite similar to what Sandra and
Brian are trying to do in San Mateo, and I'm sure numerous others
elsewhere.  Not any easy road, but another way to get to the end of
building community in America. Maybe cohousing is more about intention of
where we want go rather than strict definition. If cohousing is strictly
defined, then maybe a lot of us are building intentionally community, and
marketing it under the precepts of cohousing because it sounds less
marxist/60's ish than intentional community and more palatable to
mainstream America
I have been following some of the discussion on the definition of
cohousing, and often hear people say things about different projects,
with some making judgements on what is and what is not cohousing.  As we
develop more projects/ the blur between cohousing being a subset of
intentional community comes under question. Is cohousing cohousing after
all the initial designer/ occupants pass on to the great cohousing
complex in the sky? Certainly the second generation would need to at
least minimally remodel a facility for it to be cohousing.  This brings
us back to the point I'd like to make that for cohousing to be
ecohousing, the residents should design thier facilities not only for
themselves, but for future occupants that may not be at the initial
design table, and build flexible structures/communities that can be
modified so that all can have a hand in customizing to fit thier needs
for the intended lifecycle of the project. And that includes our elders,
and we as future elderly.

In Sustainable Community, Mark DeMaio, Concord Oasis Ecohousing
Where we are building a straw bale multi- household/
common house to compliment our existing 2 buildings.
site tours with hands on green building opportunities are being held on
See our website at (being
updated soon)
p.s. Our project has been drawing good press lately! see Contra Costa
Times 1/21/98 home trends section- article about county cohousing efforts
coming out soon also.

>>I'm posting this inquiry on behalf of some of our East Lake Commons
>>members.  Many of us are concerned about people being able to stay in 
>>community as they age or become ill. ....Of course it would also be 
>>to know what other "young" (or still-in-the-womb) cohousing groups 
>might be
>>planning or thinking about this for the future.

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