Chuck Durret: Missing cohousing
From: Fred H Olson (
Date: Fri, 8 Oct 2004 09:30:58 -0700 (PDT)
Chuck Durrett    charles.durrett [at]
is the author of the message below. 
It was posted by Fred the Cohousing-L list manager <fholson [at]> 

Note: Chuck with his wife Katie McCamant wrote the book
_Cohousing_ which was largely responsible for bringing the idea to the US.

--------------------  FORWARDED MESSAGE FOLLOWS --------------------

The Cohousing Company             McCamant & Durret Architects
  Spaces for Children

                                                  24 September 2004

Wow, the single-family house, what a workout.  Especially after 12 years
of living in Doyle Street cohousing in Emeryville, CA.  We have moved to
a 1,150 square foot single-family house with a white picket fence,
a detached garage, and a dog.  Not because we became disenchanted with
cohousing, but because we are working with getting a beautiful new 34
unit cohousing project built in the woods, but in the city at the same

And Nevada City, CA is charming to be sure, but the whole single-family
house dream thing is, like my daughter would say, "like so over-rated".
I had forgotten.  Like you have to shop, cook and clean up seems like
every night.  That's one thing.  But really, you have to get in your
car, sit in traffic, find parking, play bumper cars, stand in line, find
your car, find the exit, sit in traffic, put away the groceries, and now
you're just ready to start cooking.  Obviously, when dinner is available
in the common house, you do none of that.  Even on the other nights,
there is common dinner left over for next day lunch, midnight snack,
even, on occasion, the next day's dinner.  Speaking of snacks, its
amazing how often a neighbor would serve Saturday afternoon snacks, or
Sunday, or whenever.  And I'd do it on occasion, too.  I baked a fresh
pear crisp the other day - we ate a quarter of it and there was no
neighbor to readily give the other three quarters to without having to
make a big deal out of it, visit a while, and all the rest.  With
cohousers, you can hand them something and rock on.

So now that I'm having to cook / shop / clean up all that more often,
then the garbage has to be taken out more frequently, and the compost,
and the dishwasher has to be loaded everyday and sometimes twice.
It's one thing after another.  Clean the stove, clean the cutting
boards, and on and on.  You're always doing busy work - it feels oh
so important at the time and then you start over, just as you finished
the last cycle and none of it is important at all.

At Emeryville, we only had dinner at the common house three times a
week, but there was one spontaneous joint meal a week with a neighbor
when they cooked too much, and one breakfast provided by the coach of
the work committee.  Or someone was just finishing up with the grill
and you put your stuff on and they had some extra squash, and showed
you just how to cook it and it was all just so much more convenient,
practical, and economical - just like we planned it and is if the
neighbors were all entertained by cooperation which they seemed to be
I was -  And boy does it make cohousing feel "oh so not over-rated".

And I haven't mentioned sharing, something we all learned in
kindergarten.  At Emeryville, Katie or Jessie or I (mostly Jessie) would
go knock on doors if we were missing two eggs for French toast or milk
for the pancakes.  It made it possible to not have to go to the store to
get a dozen eggs when you only needed one or two, or a quart of milk
when you only needed a cup.  You stock the fridge with stuff you might
need.  You need a 14 cubic foot refrigerator that you forage like a
coyote who can't remember where he buried his bone.  And did I mention
the leftovers that are just oh so not interesting because you ate that
stuff last week but you can't throw it away until it's "ripe",
but have to forage around it.

I can't wait to get back into cohousing so I can get my life back.

With an opinion,
Chuck Durrett

Charles R. Durrett, Principal Architect
The Cohousing Company
Spaces for Children
241 B Commercial St.
Nevada City, CA 95959
charles.durrett [at]

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