This week’s post is especially for those of you sociable, forward-thinking people who are looking for a co-housing opportunity, either now or in the future.
I’d like to introduce you to two friends of mine.
Linda is a good friend from choir, a generous woman with a huge spirit. In addition to being one of our best and boldest singers, she is the kind of woman who nurses an ex-husband through his final months in his struggle with cancer.
Linda startled me with a larger-than-usual hug as I walked into choir the other night. “You make me so SAD!” she said, with sure-enough tears in her eyes. She went on to explain that she’d been reading this blog and was feeling envious of what we Shedders have created. “It’s the kind of thing I’ve been thinking about all my life, and now I’m in my fifties and haven’t done a thing about it,” she said. “But I want it so much I can taste it.”
And then there’s Meg. Meg is someone I met very recently, so far only via email, through the ABC By Design radio broadcast that our Shedders household was featured in. Meg is seriously in action. Here are a few excerpts from our email exchange:
I was excited to hear about your project on By Design this morning! I’ve been reading and researching for some time now on ‘pocket neighbourhoods’ and senior co-housing and have decided this is how I want to live.
I’m keen to get a “community” up and running but am divorced so sadly don’t have the same connection with my married friends as I once had – hence the need to connect with like-minded people to be able to proceed…Once I have a group of interested people I want to take them through the ideas in a manual I have – a 10 week course about how co-housing works. Many will probably opt out along the way, which is fine, until there is a final agreement to seek a property and begin designing etc.
…Have you heard of Geoffrey London (the State Architect of Victoria)? – he talks of a concept that he calls “Sector 4 housing” where groups of people come together to co-develop housing, thus achieving great economies. I made contact with him and he’s interested in assisting us. He wants to create a one-stop shop (architects, developers, etc.) to assist people with such projects. Have asked him about the legal structures – which he’s currently investigating – so hopefully will get some good knowledge shortly.
A few days after that Meg was back again: …..Am meeting with several of my collaborators tomorrow….
And the following day: …Yes, there was definitely a big whiff of interest…there were 7 of us (2 men, 5 women, all single), all between 53 and 60 years (though I hadn’t specified age – just shows how more serious us oldies are!) We gathered around the wooden table on my back deck overlooking my beautiful garden. Over delicious fare and a glass of white we each in turn gave some background to ourselves plus our reasons for being interested in communal living and our vision for how this might be realised. We were definitely all on the same page with this though timing varied, as 3 of the people had children still at high school and another needed to remain in Sydney for income reasons for another 4 years. We then discussed some of the points people had raised and concluded by stating what we’d like to happen next. I threw into the discussion the process I could take people through as per the manual, “Ageing in Place Successfully, Eldering Each Other,” and this is what we all opted for. We plan to meet every 2 weeks – beginning in 2 weeks time!
Meg is a conjunction of enthusiasm, high intention, vision, energy – and solid research. In my experience, that’s what it takes to create this unusual culture we’re longing for.
Linda, meet Meg. There are fellow travellers everywhere and life is composed of nothing but time!
Resources to further pique your interest:
I’m becoming a storehouse of information relating to co-housing. Here are some of the sites and books I’ve been reviewing this week, mostly out of the research of Meg and another good friend, Paul, who’s been investigating co-housing for some time.
This is Meg’s facebook meet up page; she’d like to hear from you, especially if you’re in the Sydney area.
Geoffrey London (the State Architect of Victoria) talks about Sector 4 Housing where groups of people co-develop housing, achieving great economies.
Pocket neighbourhoods: “a secluded cluster of homes gathered around a shared open space such as a courtyard, harkening back to the days when people actually knew who their neighbours were or were even friendly to them…providing a lower maintenance home and the possibility for simpler living.”
Meet a city community that combines high-density living with open space.
This site introduces a book that helped start me on this journey: We Need Each Other: Building a Gift Community, by Bill Kauth
Aging in Place Successfully: Eldering Each Other by Charles Durrett. A thorough look at ageing in our current world, leading towards the idea of co-housing. “It is generally considered that the three fears of most seniors are loneliness, helplessness and boredom…Life in a senior cohousing community can make all the difference.”
This (American) site serves as a resource for people interested in learning more about living in community and how that enriches one’s lifestyle as we age.