Excitement this weekend about the possibilities of low cost cohousing
From: Sharon Villines (sharonsharonvillines.com)
Date: Sun, 6 Jun 2021 16:14:17 -0700 (PDT)
While browsing the web last week I came upon cottages, communities often near 
beaches that were half vacation homes and half a good way to make use of highly 
prized land. Friday I did a blog post on it:


It was like a breath of fresh air. 

I had started investigating low-cost cohousing by looking at construction 
materials and techniques. Fairly quickly I discovered that there are many, many 
very stable and long lasting construction techniques that are cost effective. 
The core problem is out-dated construction codes and exclusionary zoning that 
prohibits using them inside the city limits. And people need to be in the city 
for jobs and schools and sewer systems.

I attended a three day ReBuild conference on regenerative villages. But the key 
interest there seems to be high tech — large high rises in the country to 
maximize land use. One presentation was on a village in a high rise of glass 
with its own food production in hydroponic gardens hanging from the ceiling. 
Huge expensive experiments requiring equally huge investments and expert 
systems design. Not something a group of 30 normally-skilled people could put 
together in any reasonable length of time. It was a curious mix of engineers 
wanting to go back to nature and take high-tech with them.

Technology dependent living (beyond laptops and medical breakthroughs) is not 
what I'm interested in writing about or encouraging. I want a roof I can fix 
myself and plumbing that is obvious. (I have still avoided getting involved 
with the cloud.)

But just hearing the word “cottages" brought back memories of wandering along 
boardwalks to go to the ocean through a dense maze of small Victorian cottages 
on Fire Island. Or a New Jersey beach with little houses tucked away in the 
sand dunes, some (photogenically) falling down. Enclaves of brightly colored 
little fairy cottages all in a row. And chaotic assemblages near fishing lakes 
and streams where families have built over the years by slipping in another 
little building or two to accommodate another generation.

Memories of communities in cites that are tucked away inside ornamental iron 
gates that were once estates and are now intriguing clusters of small city 
condos. Pocket gardens but with houses.

What would the response be to a cohousing community that looked like the small 
cottage communities on Martha’s Vineyard and a million other places. Would a 
town board or a neighborhood be more welcoming to a “village of cottages” than 
to rather conventional multi-family housing? Would it be economical? Economical 

I’ve been testing an idea with people this week, a totally random survey of 
people I happened to come in contact with. Their reactions have been the same 
as mine — positive associations with individual homes that are supposed to be 
small and huddled together. 

I’m not talking about the nineteenth-century grand camps built in the 
Adirondack Mountains in upper New York state to which families brought their 
maids. Or the one available now in Newport, Rhode Island: 6,000 SF with 15 
bedrooms, 10.2 bathrooms, and 2.5 acres of land for $19 million. (The price is 
probably not negotiable. And the .2 bathroom is curious.)

An enclave of cottages in a city is a romantic idea but so is cohousing. It’s 
the romance that brings the power of a dream. In sociocracy the first level of 
building a vision-mission-aim statement is the dream. Things start with 
dreams—they bring energy.

One of the features I noticed that makes pictures of cottage communities is 
that they look like lived in places built by human hands. They have trees and 
(tiny) flower and herb gardens. A community a bit set off by itself amidst 
trees so it isn’t competing with the neighboring mini-McMansions. There are 
also lots of pictures of completed cottage communities that can be used as 
examples for town boards and neighbors. I think people would understand "a 
cottage community like those near an ocean.” it evokes cozy and friendly 
without the specter of hippies running around naked or housing projects with 
rats and muddy grounds.

Does that make sense to anyone else? Do you see it as doable? Even possibly 

The blog post has pictures:


Sharon Villines, Editor & Publisher
Affordable Housing means 30% of household income
Cohousing means self-developed, self-governed, self-managed

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