Articles from cohousing wiki


This page preserves some articles from the Cohousing Wiki which was created in 2007
and was taken down in 11/11/11.  The wiki failed to get enough use and contributions
and the software was not updated so it accumulated SPAM.

Some articles are excluded from this archive:
Articles (and some portions of articles) about the wiki and editing it etc.
Lists of communities   See also explanation at Community List
Articles about individual communities See explanation at Main Page

Active Issues
Affordable Cohousing
Cohousing Magazine
Cohousing Organizations
Cohousing in Tasmania
Community-Developer Relationships
Community Development Models
Community List
Document Library
Games to play in cohousing
Grand River Intentional Communities
Main Page
Mission Statements
Modular construction
Retrofit Cohousing
Stories about life in cohousing


Main Page

Articles about individual cohousing communities on the wiki were discouraged. Instead such information,
links to community web sites etc should be accessed and maintained at
Community Directory on Coho/US .
An permissible exception was if a community did not have their own web site and wanted to use an
article on the wiki as a simple / temporary web presence tho that could also be done on their page in
the Community Directory.

The Fellowship of Intentional Communities wiki has cohousing related information.

The Document Library  was expected to be the main use of this wiki. As on 6/08 it and the
wiki have failed to thrive (volunteer contributions have been few).

An archive cohousing documents was started in 2010: Cohousing Policy Database

Articles in alphabetical order


Active Issues


This page is suggested as a locus for cohousing issues that are currently being discussed,
perhaps on Cohousing-L . Once an issue has stabilized, it might just remain here or be moved
to a more visible location--a page on the website. The purpose of these pages is not simply to
point to a thread on the listserv or any raw dialogue. Rather, it is to summarize or transform
the raw inputs into a useful knowledge base that does not require someone to digest these raw
inputs and formulate what it all means. This doesn't imply that this knowledge base (document)
is stripped of divergent views. All worthwhile views can be supported in the document. The point
is that it adds some useful structure to the dialogues making them more accessible to those
coming after with similar questions.

There are three issues that have drawn extensive comments on the Cohousing-L recently and
might be good candidates for this reformulating process. These are:

*Modular construction
*Community-Developer Relationships
*Affordable Cohousing (a "stub" not developed like the others)


Affordable Cohousing

What Is Affordable Housing?

From the government's perspective (HUD) affordable housing is housing that does not require more
than 30% of one's income to own or rent. For ownership, this presumably refers only to the
mortgage and possibly the insurance costs. So in that sense, it doesn't refer to low cost or
reasonable cost housing. A brief discussion can found




Cohousing-L is a free, email based mostly US and Canadian discussion about cohousing that was
created in late 1992. All 25,000 messages are archived and searchable. Hopefully some summaries
and pointers to some of the many discussions in those archives will be will be added below (may
also have seperate artcle).

* Cohousing-l Info page Subscribe forms, other info.
* Cohousing-L messages  (archives) includes
form in upper right corner to search.

Finding / Reading noteworthy threads 
The 25,000 messages include many threads of ongoing interest but finding them can be a challenge.
Below is a list of some noteworthy threads.

The Cohousing-L weekly summary list summarizes at the
subject line level.  See archives Cohousing-L summary archive

Cohousing Magazine is considering distilling threads see

Searching with the cohousing-L archive search facility - see below.

How one can read these threads depends on how much editing has been done since the thread was
posted.  A few threads have edited summaries.  These could be published in Cohousing Magazine

In general tho one needs to read the thread in the
Cohousing-L archives.  Sometimes a thread
continues under several subject lines so it is desirable to browse other threads posted about
the same time.  Unfortunately the archive mechanism to get to the date index (of 200 messages)
from a given message does not work except for recent messages. The page
Archive links by date helps find the right date index.

Another approach is to search the archives.  One can search for subject lines with something like:

+subject:Why I like cohousing

But hits are not returned in chronological order if there are variant subject lines it gets complicated.

Another approach would be to list the url's of all related messages on a wiki page.  I don't
have an example of that here yet.

Noteworthy threads 
* The June 2008 Why I like cohousing
thread and it's off-shoot thread
 Why I live in cohousing are
widely regarded as very interesting and many messages include anecdotes about incidents in
specific communities.

* "Disillusioned with cohousing" June 2006 - Search archives for "*llusioned" without quotes in
Cohousing-L archives


Cohousing Magazine

Cohousing Magazine is an online magazine about cohousing.

In the early 1990's there was a paper version of the magazine started and edited by Don Lindemann.


Cohousing Organizations


* Cohousing-L is an independent online discussion of cohousing.
* The Cohousing Association of the United States (Coho/US)
  --  Comm. Dir.
* Canadian Cohousing Network
  --  Comm. Dir
* Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC)
  --  Comm Dir. FIC serves cohousing communities as well as other forms
      of intentional communities.  FIC's Reachbook is a bulletin board for
      communities seekeing memeber and people seeking communities (not just cohousing).
* Samenhuizen vzw -  Europe - Belgium ( in Dutch)
* Cohousing in Tasmania
* Grand River Intentional Communities - Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada


Cohousing in Tasmania

Cohousing in Tasmania currently consists of three groups.

Cascade Cohousing is the oldest established community, a strata title private equity development, while the
Cohousing Co-operative Ltd is a partly government funded Community Housing Project.
Both these cohousing projects are on the lower slopes of Mt Wellington.

Southern Cohousing is currently in development, having identified a parcel of land at Rosny on the Eastern Shore of Hobart.


Community-Developer Relationships

A dialogue emerged recently (2/23/08) on the cohousing listserv by the message RFPs and developers
(request for proposals) that might be used as models in soliciting bids on the
development of a cohousing project. RFPs are defined here and here.
Briefly, they are a documented set of needs sent to prospective contractors, each of whom
responds with a proposal describing their approach to satisfying the specified needs.

This stimulated an extensive dialogue about the nature of the relationship between the community
and the developer in the cohousing context. Two distinct approaches for identifying the "best"
developer focused the discussion that followed:

* strong reliance on well-formed RFPs.
* strong reliance on cultivating strong relationships with developers who share cohousing values and goals.

These approaches as well as  also explored. This document attempts to summarize the content of
that discussion for future interested parties. It also includes an experience section for those
cohousing projects that want to document their experiences. Others with a better or different
view of that dialogue are encouraged to add comments to or edit this page.

 RFP First  

The RFP approach involves preparing a document that adequately incorporates a project's
requirements and criteria and then distributing the document to developers the community feels
are competent and interested in performing the work. This approach allows the community to
evaluate proposals from different developers competing for the described work. The community can
then select the one that seems the most suitable for their needs. This assumes two things:

* the RFP really adequately represents the work that needs to be done, and
* the truly competent developers will respond with a proposal.

The first assumption is problematic. With any complex project (e.g., software development) it will be
highly unlikely that initial design elements will be on the mark. Even with professional
consultation, things will have to be amended along the way as reality intrudes or new design
concepts emerge. Consequently, relying on the initial responses has some risk.
Few realistic projects follow the initial map.
Maybe a variant on this process might be to send out the RFP and ask for comments
first on its reality. That, in itself, might be one way to identify genuinely interested
developers and encourage participation, a problem looked at next.

The second assumption is also problematic. A really busy developer (one who is in demand) may
not have time to respond to the RFP.
Thus, some of those who are really competent may not choose to enter into a competition
for the job. Alternatively, some view unwillingness to respond to an RFP as an
indication of a problem.

  Relationship First  

The relationship-first approach may not be quite as easy to codify. It seems to involve
identifying a developer who has a shared interest in cohousing or in projects that don't
necessarily fit established patterns. Once identified, the possibilities are explored to
determine the interest and commitment a prospective developer potentially would have in the
project. Presumably, this also could involve nominal participation on the part of the developer
(architect/builder) in formulating the design. (Much of this is difficult to discuss because we
don't have established Community Development Models. It might be useful to develop some
abstractions that roughly define a typical development process.)

The basic assumptions here are:

* You can find a developer who does share your interests.
* Arm-in-arm relationships are more likely to succeed than arm's length relationships.

Consequently, the first problem might be in identifying interested developers. This may be
particularly true in rural areas.

 Project Experiences  

It is useful to document the experience of cohousing projects to help ground this discussion in
reality and discover new twists on the themes developed here.


Community Development Models

This page is seen as a starting point for developing more formal models for cohousing community
development. In talking about cohousing communities, I keep running into a basic problem of an
imprecise vocabulary and few reference points aside from the set of books offering informal
models of the processes and the products. These informal models have provided many insights and
advanced the "theories of cohousing" remarkably. They are treasured by the cohousing
communities. However, it might be an opportune time to convert some aspects these informal
approaches into more formal structures that make us think more carefully about what is well
understood, partially understood and vaguely understood.

Do I think that cohousing can be rendered completely by a formal model? No. It is a large,
complex and evolving field and may never be captured by a static model. Do I think it is useful
to try to model at least some parts of it? Yes. Though any specific model (or set of models)
will be inadequate, it offers, at least, an evolving language that might make discussions more
fruitful. It may also be a learning tool for those stumbling in the dark as we have been.

As a former software developer by trade, I have always been humbled by the complexity of the
problems I have had to undertake. One of the ways of handling that complexity has been to try to
model the problem. Even if not always successful, the modeling effort has always been
educational. What I am wondering is whether that exercise in this very complex world might have
similar rewards. In trying to write about other aspects of community development, I have
struggled to find the right terms or concepts and then use them consistently. It has not been
easy. What I sense is missing might be some shared models, however imperfect they may prove to

That is what this page is about--trying to diagram some of the facets of a multi-faceted object
like a community in its various stages of being: emerging, forming, constructing and operating.
Perhaps, these aren't even the right phases. Anyone else's additions, corrections, perfections
will be greatly appreciated.

So what is a model? It is a simplified representation of some not very simple object or process.
Modeling techniques have been converging for some time on a uniform modeling language (UML).
This is probably the most productive approach. The tools (generally diagrams) are well
understood and do seem to make sense most of the time. That will be my starting point


Community List

Note: This article (and the "Geo List") were removed since the Cohousing Directory at Coho/US does a much better job.
See also Cohousing Organizations


Document Library


See also  cohousing policy database

Proposed many times on the Cohousing-L list, a public repository of cohousing documents was
finally started in February 2007 with the launching of  Its purpose
is to catalogue document, processes, structures, and other information related to the forming,
growth, and operation of a cohousing development to allow new groups to use the accumulated
knowledge of established cohousing groups.

This page is intended to simply be the nucleus of the Document Library, allowing it to grow and
expand organically.

Legal Documents 

Homeowner Association (HOA)

Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CCRs) or Declaration

These are the formal legal documents which describe the rights and obligations of owners of
property within a homeowner's association.

Example Documents:

Liberty Village CCRs      .      .

Quincy DRAFT bylaws  See also
Cohousing-L message :

Non-Legal Documents 

House Rules

Membership Policy

A Membership Policy documents all aspects of community membership, including but not limited to:
* requirements to join a group
* process of joining
* membership rights, duties, and responsibilities
* membership termination and revokation process

Group Decision Process

Participation Agreements
PA from Swan's Market Cohousing, Oakland, CA

Games to play in cohousing


A compilation of games from Rick Gravrock of Monterey Cohousing in Minneapolis


Grand River Intentional Communities


Grand River Intentional Communities (GRIC) is a cohousing support, education, and promotion
group dedicated to fostering the formation of intentional community groups in the Waterloo
Region of South-West Ontario, Canada. This includes cohousing, retrofit cohousing, ecovillages,
and other local  intentional community groups. GRIC will share resources, meals, friendship, and
assist in any way we can.

GRIC was co-founded by Stephen Wilson and Pauline Richards under the name Kitchener-Waterloo
Area Retrofit Cohousing (KWARC).  KWARC had an initial meeting of 5 people in June 2006,
including the co-founders and one family relation.  The meeting produced a very positive
discussion and visioning session.  It was decided that the next meeting should be a shared,
vegetarian-friendly potluck meal and meeting combination, a tradition that continued for the
remainder of 2006.  Meetings would be on the 3rd Wednesday of the month.

On November 25, 2006, GRIC hosted their first cohousing public information session at First
Unitarian Church in Waterloo.  It began with a vegetarian organic spaghetti dinner, and was
followed by presentations by Dorothy Mazeau of the Canadian Cohousing Network
and Wendy Pearle, outgoing president of FROG of the Ecovillage at Ithaca.
Approximately 40 people, including GRIC regulars,
attended the event.  See Public Infomation Events.

The last meeting of 2006 was a movie night held on December.  After the movie an impromptu
meeting broke out, in which it was decided that the monthly meetings should be set for the 13th
of each month.  This would change the day of the week of each meeting every month, allowing
those with events scheduled for weekday evenings to be able to make meetings once in a while.

During the January 13, 2007 meeting it was decided to split the monthly meeting into two
separate meetings; one for business and one for socializing.  The business meeting would be held
on the 13th day of each month, causing it to fall of different days of the week each month.
This was to allow for those with prior weekly committments to be able to attend meetings
periodically, without a long-term schedule conflict.  The social meeting would be held on the
last Saturday of each month.  See Meetings.

Shared Meals 
Since the second meeting of the group, GRIC has always met around sharing meals together.  Early
on it was established that the meals would be vegetarian-friendly to be accessible to as many
people as possible.

GRIC holds two monthly events; a business meetings entitled Nuts & Bolts on the 13th of each
month, and a social gathering entitled Bells & Whistles on the last Saturday of each month.
Locations and times are different for each meeting, and may be pre-empted by other events or
holidays.  One member family additionally hosts potluck meals every Wednesday night at their
home, entitled Bits & Bites.

Nuts & Bolts
Nuts & Bolts is the monthly business meeting for GRIC.

Bells & Whistles
Bells & Whistles is the monthly social event for GRIC.  It typically includes a potluck meal.

Public Infomation Events
In order to grow its membership and promote cohousing publicly, GRIC hosts public information
sessions periodically.

April 28, 2007, 12-3pm
* Location: TBA
* Event: vegetarian organic spaghetti dinner with presentations
* Presenters: TBA

November 25, 2006, 5-8pm
* Location: First Unitarian Church in Waterloo
* Event: vegetarian organic spaghetti dinner with presentations
* Presenters:
** Dorothy Mazeau of the Canadian Cohousing Network
** Wendy Pearle, outgoing president of FROG of the Ecovillage at Ithaca

Local Cohousing Projects 
Laurel Creek Commons
The first cohousing project to be launched from GRIC was Laurel Creek Commons.  Laurel Creek
Commons seeks to build a new cohousing development in Waterloo Region based on the concept of
the glass-enclosed pedestrian mall as seen in Denmark's Jystrup Savvareket and Langley, B.C.'s

Retrofit Cohousing
Many GRIC members are pursuing the creation of a retrofit cohousing project in Waterloo.

Contact GRIC 
If you are in or around Waterloo Region and wish to join GRIC or attend a meeting, you can join
the Grand River Intentional Communities Yahoo! group
or contact xxxx

* Grand River Intentional Communities Yahoo! group
* the City of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
* the City of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
* the Region of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Mission Statement
We will create a new cohousing community in Waterloo as a local interpretation of Denmark's
Jystrup Savvaerket and Langely, B.C.'s Windsong.

Vision Statement
Our community will be a beacon of vibrant community life and sustainable urban living.

New members are being sought to gain the critical mass required to purchase land.

Laurel Creek Commons is in the process of forming a membership structure, and as yet has no legal structure.

One participating household has extensive experience from FROG at the Ecovillage at Ithaca.
To shorten LCC's development time, adoption and adaptation of FROG's structures, policies, and
documentation is being examined.

Laurel Creek Commons is the first project to come out of Grand River Intentional Communities.
The idea to develop a new cohousing project in Kitchener-Waterloo was first announced in August 2006.

An amateur  Project design proposal was completed to display during
Grand River Intentional Communities's first public information event.

The inaugural kick-off meeting was held on Sunday, March 11th, 2007 in Kitchener, Ontario.
Those in attendance are seriously jazzed at getting their project off the ground.

November 2006 project design study/proposal by Andrew Netherton:
* site proposal
* building
* levels of building

*  Laurel Creek Commons record at
*  Laurel Creek Commons record at

* Windsong Cohousing, Langley, British Columbia, Canada

* Another project designed along similar lines is Pacific Gardens Cohousing
in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada


Membership Policy


A membership policy documents all aspects of community
membership.  Membership policies could include:

* process of joining
* requirements to join a community (including financial obligations)
* membership rights, duties, and responsibilities
* membership termination and revokation process


Mission Statements


Mission statements and similar documents form the formal basis of consensus of what kid of
community a group plans to build and gives new members a basis for deciding if they would fit

Feel free to add links documents your community is willing to share.

Group Statements 

11/17/06 Elder Grace Mission and 'Would you fit' Questionaire 


Modular construction


This page was started 1/19/07 by searching the Cohousing-L archives
for "modular" paring down to most relevant links and extracting short quotes...

One can find just messages in the archives with relevant subjects lines by searching for:

+subject:Modular housing

One can also find all messages on a given date using Archives by date

22 May 93 The Cantine's Island cohousing group will be building twelve modular houses in Saugerties,
New York (northeast Ulster County).
msg00133 11 Nov 94 update
msg01951 19 Aug 97 update

Cambridge Cohousing  March 26, 1998  built with modular components

Libertytown, Maryland, the first modular home occupied in January 1999.

5 Feb 1999 Cambridge Cohousing was built using modular construction townhouses, stacked
apartments, and the commonhouse msg09303

7 Feb 1999 CambridgeCohousing modular system ... has been a less than stellar success.

24 Feb 1999 book: Building Innovation for Homeownership includes projects with modular
construction msg09370

14 Jul 2002 weblink to what seems like a clever inner urban modular design:

9 Oct 2002 Great Oak Cohousing in Ann Arbor, MI using modular construction (Royal Homes)

13 Oct 2004 Touchstone - the third cohousing community in Ann Arbor  built using a modular home
builder msg20720

duane@ Wonderland Hill Develpment Co 27 Jun 2005: There are a ton of great pre-fab homes on the
market today. msg21826

29 Jun 2005 Metro Cohousing in St. Louis will be using modular construction.

12 Jul 2005 Catoctin Creek Village (Taylorstown, VA), we are building detached homes using the
modular construction method. msg21873

7 Oct 2006 North Oakland Cohousing using modular (pre-fab) housing from Canadian manufacturer

how to take a standard modular home and inexpensively .. style

14 Jan 2008 modular homes for affordable housing

17 Jan 2008 construction from structurally insulated panels (SIPs)

18 Jan 2008 SIPs in construction at Legacy Farm cohousing in Rosendale, NY. our architect, Bruce
Coldham msg27270


Retrofit Cohousing


Retrofit  Cohousing is developed in existing housing by
changing the way the occupants of that housing relate - usually with new occupants moving in to
participate in the community.  Retrofiting the social relations and not necessarily the

See this old page: Fred's Retrofit Cohousing page

3/07 C-L msg about Mayfair

Mayfair Village in Denver is retrofitting 1940's row houses


Stories about life in cohousing

Stories about life in cohousing give a feel for what it is like
and what that overused term "sense of community" really means.

This article provides links to such stories:

* Collection of stories 
from cohousing-L from 1995-2002

* Kids won him over