Cohousing emphasizes a supportive, inter-generational community, common facilities, and participation by all members. Its setting can be urban, suburban, or rural. It can involve building houses or renovating existing structures. The design can take a variety of forms, but the intention is to increase social interaction, conversation, and community relationships.
Cohousing projects typically minimize the size of individual units, but maximize shared facilities, which become an extension to everyone’s living space. Central to this is the common house – the community hang-out – which is the site for community dinners, house concerts, parties, interest groups and movies. Most cohousing groups are committed to environmentally friendly construction and sustainable living.
Cohousing recognizes that food and bonds of community go together. Most cohousing communities have weekly “common meals”. Teams of 5 or 6 residents take turns cooking dinner for the rest of the community, and the cost of groceries is shared among those attending the meal. At Prairie Sky, we have common meals once weekly and pot-luck dinners once or twice monthly. Cook teams typically cook twice every 5 or 6 weeks.
We are creating a community that celebrates the potential of cooperation. We want to live in a place where our actions can reflect our commitment to each other, and to social and environmental responsibility.
Creating and maintaining a healthy community is an ongoing process filled with challenges, celebrations, and growth. The following principles guide our actions and interactions on this path:
Community – We believe that the strength of a community is measured not by its buildings or location, but by the networks of relationship and trust that exist between its members.
Respect – We honour each other’s gifts and differences, and especially value the contributions of children and elders. We are striving to create a space where everyone can participate, thrive, and learn from one another.
- Sustainability – We believe that encouraging a culture of generosity and sharing will increase our quality of life and decrease our consumption of materials and energy. We intend to demonstrate our respect for the environment and the greater community by making responsible lifestyle choices.
- Affordability – We believe that choosing to decrease our housing costs can increase the time and energy we have available for community building, for recreation, and for living richer, more fulfilling lives.
Further information about cohousing philosophy and other communities in North America can be found by following these links for the Canadian Cohousing Network and the Cohousing Association of the United States.
- New York Times article on Modern Cohousing
- Website for Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett
- Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett “Cohousing: A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves” (Ten Speed Press, 1988, 1994)
- Chris Hanson “The Cohousing Handbook: Building a Place for Community” (H R M Press, Inc., 1996)