Re: Monkyspheres and microhoods - Urban Cohousing
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sat, 2 Jan 2010 10:24:55 -0800 (PST)

Tom Lofft, Liberty Village, MD

Are there already other strongly urban cohousing communities

We discussed this after the last cohousing conference. People were using the cohousing statistics to argue that cohousing isn't suburban anymore. But when I looked at some of the communities that called themselves urban, they were not urban in any definition I could find.

When small towns are popular, yesterday's suburb is suddenly a small town. When being urban is popular, suburban is suddenly urban. This is probably fine for marketing purposes. If we want to understand cohousing and other intentional communities a more objective standard should be used if we want to be taken seriously.

Takoma Village is in Washington DC, for example. One of our members truly believes that we are suburban, because urban is mid-town Manhattan where at high noon neither pedestrians nor cars can move. Urban means gridlock. We have trees and the streets are passable even during rush hour so we are suburban. He would check off suburban or small town on any form given to him.

Wikipedia has an article that gives the definitions of "urban area" in many countries.

I think the most useful definition would be to use the list of 514 urban areas defined in the 2000 census:

I would suggest that using this list would provide the best classification method because it is the easiest to apply consistently and is based on geographic statistics rather than by other economic or social characteristics.

I think it is unfortunate and not good for cohousing that we have classifications that are more likely to be based on personal impressions -- or the fad of the moment. In marketing cohousers could still use locally meaningful descriptions, but in other contexts it would be advantageous to use a standard that accurately characterizes cohousing and other intentional communities in studies of urban planning, housing trends, population growth, etc.

In fact, with such a standard readily available, I think cohousing would be much more likely to be included in such studies.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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