Re: Shared Walls or Single Family Houses?
From: Craig Ragland (
Date: Mon, 28 Jan 2008 10:41:57 -0800 (PST)
Let's hear it for differences... for choices... for the diversity that is
the expanding range of cohousing choices we are successfully creating all
over the United States!

Van Deist is RIGHT ON when sharing about how where we come from influences
our housing wishes and desires. I grew up in track housing in a archetypal
LA suburb - us kids knew each other as we romped through each others' houses
- and it was a one hour drive to anywhere (beach, desert, snow, LA). Then my
family moved into a very private home in a beautiful treed canyon.

Guess what? I now love my cohousing home at Songaia (38 people, 15 homes, 11
acres, 12 chickens) where I live near my neighbors (in duplexes, as it
happens) and lots of trees!

When I visit urban cohousing with lots of shared walls and very limited
natural spaces, I do not feel at home... So far, I have never felt very
comfortable staying very long in high density space - if I need to be in a
city for work or play, I'm much more comfortable driving in and leaving it
to be elsewhere to actually live. Where I grew up, I was either in a
neighborhood where I knew my neighbors or in natural settings - and now I
find being surrounded by people I don't know and asphalt and cars and sound
and light simply draining.

Exciting, yes - but I don't want "my home" to be exciting.

I've experienced the opposite reaction from others... they arrive at Songaia
from Seattle (or another city), look around at our gardens and forest and
orchards, then start expressing concern about how far it is to the nearest
Starbucks (2 miles). When I respond that our common house cafe is a short
stroll from my home, they think I just don't get it - their lifestyle
includes lots of transactions with lots of people, including people they
don't yet know and they want that in their cohousing as well.

By creating cohousing in a wide variety of different locations (urban,
suburban, rural, small town) and using a wide variety of building and
housing styles, we will appeal to a wider range of people...

So, lets create more:

- Urban cohousing with 5 shared "walls" - is 6 possible?
- Rural cohousing with no shared walls - especially if that is what lets us
preserve more open land

and everything in between.

On Jan 27, 2008 6:20 AM, VAN DEIST <vandeist [at]> wrote:
> >
> > Joani Blank of Swan's Market Cohousing made a strong argument to Tom
> Shea
> > for shared walls, and it seems as though all her points are valid.  The
> > thing is that her viewpoint might have an urban bias, and her values are
> not
> > priority with some people.  Here in Florida, our group considering elder
> > cohousing has a priority of downsized, detached cottages.  Although some
> > members did not express a preference and were willing to go either way,
> the
> > majority wanted detached cottages.

Craig Ragland
Coho/US Exec. Dir.

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