Re: Need information on Common House use (Barbara Smith)
From: Karolyn/Richard Mangeot (
Date: Fri, 28 Aug 2020 11:34:56 -0700 (PDT)
To Barbara Smith and the Middlesex Senior Cohousing folks:

Others have answered this well and I apologize for the late response; but I
will add our experience at Elderberry Cohousing, a rural senior community of
18 townhomes north of Durham, NC.

1. How often is your common house used -- on a daily, weekly or monthly basis?

During the pandemic, because we are rural and we live in North Carolina, many
of our normal Common House activities have been moved outside. Pre-covid, we
held probably between 8-9 scheduled activities per week.  Even with the
pandemic we are still scheduling a minimum of 4 activities per week inside.

2. For what purposes do people use your common house? (As many uses as

Here is what we do in Elderberry's Common House (which we have nicknamed The
Hive, because one of our community values is to live in a beehive of

DAILY - every day people walk through the Hive whether to do a laundry or put
something in someone's cubby or to get something out of the two shared
freezers or to work on a puzzle that is always out on the table or...(see
occasional uses below)

2 self-directed yoga sessions
a tai chi class led by a member
TGIF share-a-pizza or bring your own supper & drinks
at least one committee meeting

Potluck followed by a Music night (we have a soundproof media room where this
group sings and plays)
Potluck followed by a game night (the common area has tables that are used for
board games, cards, whatever)

Craft night - people bring projects to share or do individually
Plenary meeting followed by a meal - either potluck or catered by members
Guest room - probably used at least once/month for out-of-town prospects
visiting Elderberry or for members' family visitors
Book club
Party - we strongly believe that a community needs to have fun together - this
could be anything from Mardi Gras to Winter Solstice

Working out on the exercise equipment
Sitting by the woodstove in the winter
Canning or freezing garden produce on the big stoves
Using the internet (people who share the internet in their home sometimes
prefer to work here)
Group watching of a movie or streaming events like the Olympics
Emergency gathering place - we have a generator so that when there is an
area-wide power outage, the Hive still has electricity (freezers, lights, gas
stove, woodstove, fans, etc.) 
Family events - we've had everything from a bridal shower to a memorial
Holiday dinners - e.g. Thanksgiving/Christmas with anyone who's here 
Quiet place to read/wait (perhaps while you have workers/cleaners in your
Using our "library" of field guides, how-to books, games and puzzles
Storing the community's archives - hard copies of landscape plans, equipment
manuals, photo albums, etc.
Storing shared items like big pots, dehyrdator, ice cream freeezer, etc.
Luckily, Elderberry has a number of outbuildings - but lacking these we would
need the Common House for storage of tools, touch-up paint, etc.

Okay, that's more than you wanted to know - but we do want you to have all the
ammunition you need to get your common house approved.

Best of luck!

Karolyn Mangeot

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