Re: "Neighborhood" Cohousing or "Retrofit" Cohousing
From: Ann Zabaldo (
Date: Sun, 8 Dec 2013 20:16:39 -0800 (PST)
Kathy -- I really like this!
 Sweet and to the point!

Best --

Ann Zabaldo
Takoma Village Cohousing
Washington, DC
Principal, Cohousing Collaborative, LLC
Falls Church VA

On Dec 8, 2013, at 3:05 PM, Kathy Kelly wrote:

> 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] 
>> 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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