Re: retrofit cohousing vs co-nbhd [ was: Re: mythological
From: Steve Habib Rose (
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 1999 08:51:07 -0600 (MDT)
On Mon, 16 Aug 1999, Fred H. Olson wrote:

> On Sun, 15 Aug 1999, paul kilduff wrote:
> > >
> > >5. Retrofit vs. new development.
> > 
> > Same here, except in our case it's coneighborhood vs. new 
> > development/retrofit (the difference is between buying one house at at 
> > time, 
> > with possible rentals, and a comprehensive project, whether rehabbing 
> > existing building(s) or building from the ground up).  We only have two 
> > members left, and even we can't agree on that basic issue.
> Paul's clarification seemed to me to need clarification...
> I've been promoting the term "retrofit cohousing" for several years.  I
> think Kevin Wolf of N Street Cohousing was the first person I heard use
> the term.  See: 
> I use it to mean retrofiting the social relations between
> people who live in close proximity in existing housing.  To form a
> cohousing community. "Close proximity" typically means adjacent /
> contiguous properties or potentially so (by an interveneing property
> joining).  While it may involve some changes, renovations, additions to
> the physical facilities, these are likely to be incremental and most
> structures are used basically unchanged. 
> The way I understand Steve Habib Rose's use of the term 'neighbornets'
> (formerly "co-neighborhoods") is that the latter are made up of households
> spread over a larger geographic area - blocks or even miles apart.
> Thus there are likely to vehicles and "trips" involved for interaction to
> occur.  Also there is even less chance of casual interaction than with
> retrofit cohousing.
> Note that occasionally the term "retrofit cohousing" has been used
> (incorrectly in my opinion) to refer to a "comprehensive project"
> to rebuild a structure to make a cohousing community. While in
> general "rebuild" and "retrofit" can be interpreted similarly,
> I would hope that the compound term "retrofit cohousing" could be reserved
> for and widely understood to me something like I've described above.
> This is a hazard of reusing and coining terms.

I also have been using the term "retrofit cohousing" similar to the way that
Fred suggests, and specifically trying to avoid using the term "neighbornets" in
situations where the group members all live adjacent to one another.

I will think about reworking the language on the NeighborNets Network website to
make this even more clear.  Is there a good website that specifically explains
retrofit cohousing as a model?


Steve Habib Rose
Phone: (206) 721-0217
Email: habib [at]
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