ACTIVE RETIREMENT LIVING – MADELINE HILL & FRIENDS – By Christine. Ellee Celler’s recent discussion of cohousing reminded me that when I came here to Mountain Meadows (MM) seven years ago, I’d been hoping to find cohousing. I had the vague idea that cohousing meant shared resources such as buildings and land, with a mutual commitment to other green principles and true community. It was clear that the economy was unsound. What if my pension failed me as others had failed them? Perhaps this is one reason many of us Baby Boomers are focused on building real communities such as cohousing ventures than in seeking a comfortable and safe old age in the arms of a corporation. Some of us are aware that “safety” is always an illusion; the only real refuge in rough times in other people–and the only true resource, our own creativity
So what is cohousing, exactly? Wikipedia defines it as “a type of intentional community composed of private homes supplemented by shared facilities,” adding, “The community is planned, owned and managed by the residents.” Communities like this need to be small and focused. Beyond a certain size, unless they’re cults with rigid rules everyone adheres to, they can’t really run themselves by consensus, and can’t count on volunteers to do all the work. And perhaps we Americans are just too “individualistic” for this model to work very widely unless (or until) emergencies call forth our better natures. However, some of us see an increasingly uncertain future for our world and seek community as the context in which we might deal better with what’s to come.
So if you’re a Boomer looking for intentional communities or cohousing, ask yourself: what is the size of this place? Who is doing all the work – is it shared (meaning you’ll have to pull your own weight, and probably more)? What are the values everyone shares, and are they yours as well? Or would some other form of community perhaps suit you better? (In my case, MM satisfied many of the items on my cohousing checklist.)
In my next posts I’ll look more closely at these concepts and offer some good resources for further exploration.