Re: 12 Unit Cohousing - Too Small?
From: Grace Kim (
Date: Mon, 21 Sep 2020 21:03:19 -0700 (PDT)
As a co-founder, resident and architect of Capitol Hill Urban Cohousing (CHUC), 
I can attest that our 9 household (17 adults and 11 kids) has been quite 
successful. But that is in large part due to our urban location (and not having 
a lot of property to maintain). 

Knowing that many cohousing communities struggle with participation, Eva’s 
comment about whether there will be enough hands to do the work is an important 
one to consider when contemplating the “ideal size”. 

In 2004, I went to Denmark and visited more than 20 cohousing communities that 
had been around for 20-30 years. I asked residents of these communities what 
the ideal size was, and they each said the number of homes where they lived. In 
the subsequent years, I’ve visited another 40-50 communities in the US, often 
asking the residents here the same question. And while the responses have not 
been as consistent as in Denmark, what I have learned is that people usually 
self-select into the community that is right-sized for themselves.

I would say another reason for success at CHUC is that we started out (During 
early forming stages) with a strong focus on our meals program and placing high 
value on process training as a group. These are two things that we have 
sustained and even embraced as we are facing the current challenges with Covid, 
economic downturn, occupied protests, smoke, and who knows what else is to come.

Our social resiliency is a result of the social capital that we have all built 
up through the past decade of meals together and having the sometimes hard, but 
always deeply meaningful/intentional conversations. Would it be different if me 
and my neighbors lived on 10 acres? You bet. But I suspect that would be an 
entirely different group of people.

I’m working with a group in nearby small town who will be building 1200sf 
cottages. They will farm 4 acres together with their homes interspersed...and I 
suspect it will take all 28 households to chip in to take care of all the crops 
and orchards they are planning in order to provide produce for their community 
dinners. They are recruiting new members who have a value around gardening, 
small batch food production, and environmental stewardship of their land.

In my community, we benefit from a summer bounty from our 2000sf urban rooftop 
due to the hard work of one individual and her occasional team of 2-3 helpers. 
Different people/different scale.

That is the beauty of cohousing - each community caters to the interests/needs 
of the residents.

grace h. kim
schemata workshop 
(sent via mobile messaging)

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