Coho piece in SF Chronicle Sunday Real Estate section
From: Raines Cohen (
Date: Sun, 15 Jul 2001 21:32:09 -0600 (MDT)
In today's (Sunday) San Francisco Chronicle, the following article 
appears at the front of the real estate section:

with a sidebar on the conference:

Thanks to all who helped make this happen (and convey our message so 
effectively in such a visible forum), but especially the TCN conference 
PR team, Karen Hester and Neshama Abraham Paiss.

Raines (hearing about it even at the Oregon Country Fair, from relatives 
of friends)

P.S. Look for an announcement here shortly about the community open 
houses next Sunday.
Here's the text:

So happy together
Cohousing developments offer residents the chance to share life
Richard Paoli, Chronicle Real Estate Editor
Sunday, July 15, 2001

My piano is going right there," said Yehudit Lieberman, gesturing 
toward a stack of wallboard filling the center of what will be her living 
room in about two months.

Lieberman, a musician, is pretty certain about what will go where in her 
new home, a two-story townhouse condominium in Pleasant Hill, part of a 
unit development whose residents will share more than living together.
This is the Pleasant Hill Cohousing project, a place where Lieberman and 
her soon-to-be fellow residents will share space and run a portion of 
lives by consensus.

It is a method of living called cohousing, and, while not exactly 
the land, it has grown more common in California during the past 10 years.
California has 25 cohousing groups - including some in the formative 
- the largest number anywhere. Cohousing projects ranging from just a few 
units to more than 40 can be found in 30 states and Washington, D.C.

The biannual conference of the North American Cohousing organization will 
meet for three days in Berkeley starting Friday.

Most people unfamiliar with cohousing assume the term describes communal 
living verging on anarchy. "Far from it," said Lieberman. "It is very 
democratic. What we have done is to agree to make decisions together."

The basic ingredient in cohousing is a core group of households looking 
a way to share some of the responsibilities of day-to-day living - 
and sharing meals, providing child care, maintaining a garden and even 

The driving force for cohousing participants is not based on finances but 
on a desire to create and live in a community.

Another common misconception is that cohousing is cheaper than other new 
homes. In the Pleasant Hill project, for example, starting prices range 
$188,000 for a one-bedroom unit to $404,000 for a four-bedroom townhouse.
These prices are about the same as those for similar new construction in 
central Contra Costa County.

"We had a price increase during the process," said Barbara Lynch, who 
helped launch the Pleasant Hill group four years ago. "The increase 
three families to drop out. That was very difficult."

The Pleasant Hill group has been visiting the site off Monument Boulevard 
twice a month during construction.

"It is still hard to believe we're almost there," Lynch said during a 
this month.

"This is where we'll have our meals, and that's the workshop," she said, 
pointing through the pattern of studs and beams of the common house.
The decisions to be made by the 32 households will cover serving meals 
all in the common house, a structure pivotal to the community nature of 
cohousing, and using other facilities such as the swimming pool.

Cohousing groups in California seem to have started with a seminal book, 
"Cohousing: A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves," by Kathryn 
and Charles Durrett, a wife and husband team of architects.
Published more than 10 years ago and based on their experiences living in 
cohousing in Denmark, the book details the group dynamics, building 
and processes to make a project work.

McCamant and Durrett also head the Cohousing Co. in Berkeley, a design 
that specializes in cohousing, and they live in a cohousing project in 

The early stages in cohousing, said McCamant, "are the key. There has to 
a lot of discussion within the group, with the architects and designers."
"People in cohousing," added Durrett, "fundamentally agree to cooperate. 
They are what I call communitarians."

Greg Jensen is trying to form a cohousing group in Sacramento and is 
looking for a few like-minded families. "We started last year after 
a presentation by Chuck Durrett," he said. "And we've got a core group 
now of 
six households. It's a real lesson in small-group dynamics."

"We're looking to find the ways we can agree on a cohouse that will 
a old-time feeling of neighborhood," Jensen said. Communal dining and 
child care are being discussed.

"We still don't have a site or an idea of whether this will be new 
construction or a restoration of a small apartment house. There's a lot 
discussion at this point."

Michael and Sandra Coleman, who moved into one of the 20 units in the Old 
Oakland Swan's Market Cohousing a year ago, know about the talk it takes 
create a cohousing project.
"Everything gets looked at very closely. We've been talking - and still 
talking - about how we live in common," said Coleman.
"There are a lot of meetings," his wife added, "but the benefit is we 
who we are living with. They are our neighbors, our community."
Co-housing groups have a lexicon of their own. The words provide a verbal 
shorthand to determine the status of a project or member groups.

-- Forming: Three or more households in process of forming a core group.
-- Seeking land: Actively searching for a site.
-- Site optioned: Have a site under tentative agreement, but not yet 
-- Own land: Purchased land, planning for approvals and construction.
-- Building: Building homes and moving in, living on site.
-- Completed: Completed all homes in community, usually including the 
-- Retrofitting: Transforming an existing neighborhood into co-housing.

There are a number of organizations and companies with information on 
cohousing. Here are some in California:

-- The Cohousing Network, P.O. Box 2584, Berkeley 94702; (510) 486-2656;

A good first stop for those seeking cohousing information, 
the network maintains a Web site that includes contacts for nearly all 
the U.S.
cohousing projects.

-- The Cohousing Co., 1250 Addison St., #113, Berkeley 94702; (510) 549-

Founded by Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett, authors of "Cohousing: A 
Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves," this firm provides services 
range from group formation to project management.

-- Shared Living Resource Center, Shared Living Resource Center, 2337 
Parker St., No. 9, Berkeley 94704; 510-548-6608;
This nonprofit organization, started by architect Ken Norwood, co-author 
"Rebuilding Community in America," offers workshops about shared living 
tours of cohousing communities in Northern California.

E-mail Richard Paoli at rpaoli [at]

Cohousing conference set at UC Berkeley
Chronicle staff report
Sunday, July 15, 2001

The biannual North American Cohousing Conference will be held in 
Berkeley July 20-23.

The conference, meeting for the first time in California, will be held at 
the College of Environmental Design at the University of California at 
Berkeley, which joins with The Cohousing Network as an event co-sponsor.
Registration is $295. More information is available at (510) 486-2656 or
Conference highlights include Eric Utne, founder of the Utne Reader, 
speaking at the International House on how to create community.

Other sessions will cover financing projects, working with professionals, 
managing conflicts, organic cohousing, site planning, getting the work 
marketing, sustainable building, senior cohousing, resales, disability 
and affordability.

A preconference workshop on consensus and group process will be led by 
facilitation trainer Laird Schaub on July 20.

Open house tours at nearby cohousing communities are set for 1 to 4 p.m. 
July 22.

A postconference workshop on creating cohousing for architects, 
urban planners, builders, developers, project managers, financial, 
and membership consultants will be held at Swan's Market Cohousing in 
on July 23 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There is an additional fee of $100 for this event.

Raines Cohen <coho-L [at]> <>
>From the Oregon Country Fair via satellite, charged by solar power.

  Vice President, Swan's Market Cohousing [Old Oakland, CA]
I'm missing a garden workday, darn it!

  Member, East Bay Cohousing [no site yet] <>
Voted "group most likely to move forward in Berkeley/Oakland after the 

  Boardmember, The Cohousing Network <>
Reminding members to nominate candidates for the board... we need your 

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