Re: "Neighborhood" Cohousing or "Retrofit" Cohousing
From: Kathy Kelly (
Date: Sun, 8 Dec 2013 12:05:58 -0800 (PST)
How about the "N Street Model"? It's such a great story (and model)!
Kathy Kelly
Coyote Crossing Coho
Santa Cruz, CA

On Sun, Dec 8, 2013 at 12:57 AM, Kevin Wolf <kevin [at]>wrote:

> Hi Cohousing Activists,
> I just finished speaking at the UK Cohousing Network's special conference
> on Retrofit Cohousing.  They invited me because N Street Cohousing is a
> premier example of how existing homes can be converted over time into a
> vibrant cohousing community.  We have grown to 20+ houses and around 60
> adults in the 25 years we have considered ourselves a cohousing community.
> One thing that came out of this excellent event is the awareness that there
> are problems with the word "retrofit" to describe what N Street and other
> similar types of communities are doing.  We found out that people did not
> attend because they thought it was about retrofiting existing buildings
> into built choosing, similar to Doyle Street and Swans Market Cohousing
> here in CA.
> The word retrofit also doesn't describe the many ways in which "non built"
> cohousing can develop and evolve.  "Built" cohousing is defined as all the
> units coming on line more or less at the same time as one project.
> One of the speakers at the UK conference described her group's effort to
> buy homes in an inexpensive neighbourhood near Cardiff and evolve that into
> cohousing in the years to come. Few of the members would have contiguous
> homes. They'd like to buy a home near the entrance to the neighbourhood and
> convert it into a common house with possible use as a cafe during the day
> to help pay for it. It might also be rented out for non members to use as
> well.  It is a different strategy to achieve the same goals as all of us
> want to achieve in our cohousing communities.  In my opinion, the goals we
> are pursuing are more important than the specific means by which we achieve
> them, and the core elements of a cohousing community are a common house and
> the gifting of our time cooking meals for each other.
> So after the conference a few of us met for dinner and came up with a new
> proposed word to describe the type of cohousing the grows over time and is
> not built all at once - Neighborhood Cohousing.    We considered words like
> Evolving Cohousing or   Starting Small Cohousing but like the robustness of
> the word Neighborhood and all the potential in it.
> By the way, N Street member houses have been spreading out over our
> neighborhood with five of them no longer being contiguous and one of them
> at least a block away, and a long time Friend of the Community (one of our
> FOCers) lives a few blocks away.
> We'd like to spark a discussion with the U.S cohousing community on whether
> we should change from the word Retrofit to Neighborhood or another word to
> define N Street types of cohousing from communities as being different from
> cohousing communities that are built all at once from retrofitted old
> buildings.
> Thank you for weighing in.
> Kevin
> N Street Cohousing co-founder
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