While intentional communities are not new to this part of the world, the cohousing movement is a more recent expression of community living that emerged out of Denmark in the early 1960s.
Cohousing creates neighbourhoods that combine the autonomy of private dwellings with the advantages of shared resources and community living. Residents usually own their individual homes, which are clustered around a “common house” with shared amenities. These amenities may include a kitchen and dining room, children’s playroom, workshops, guest rooms, home office support, arts and crafts area, laundry and more. Each home is self-sufficient with a complete kitchen, but resident-cooked dinners are often available at the common house for those who wish to participate.
Cohousing residents participate in the planning, design, ongoing management and maintenance of their community, meeting frequently to address each of these processes. Cohousing neighbourhoods tend to offer environmentally sensitive design with a pedestrian orientation. They typically range from 10-35 households emphasizing a multi-generational mix of singles, couples, families with children, and elders.
Cohousing groups are based in democratic principles that espouse no ideology other than the desire for a more practical and social home environment. Cohousing provides personal privacy combined with the benefits of living in a community where people know and interact with their neighbours. It’s about living in a way that’s responsive to a world that has changed dramatically in the last fifty years; a world in which the home life has changed, women are integral in the labour force, resource limitations and environmental concerns are on the rise, and many people feel over extended. Cohousing offers hope in our often dissociated society. Through cohousing, we can build a better place to live, a place where we know our neighbours, a place where we can enjoy a rich sense of community and contribute to a more sustainable world. (from https://cohousing.ca/about-cohousing/what-is-cohousing/)
In Canada there are currently 17 completed cohousing projects (12 in BC alone!) and more than 22 in various stages of formation. The Canadian Cohousing Network is an umbrella organization for all of these communities. www.cohousing.ca