Cohousing - A Carbon Footprint for the Future?

My wife and I have had some discussions recently about the aging process and how we would like to spend the next few decades of our 3rd stage of life. With a house having more space than we need and requiring more maintenance and repair than our bodies or bank account need, we have been feeling that it's time for a change. Leaving Port Townsend is not for us, so we would have to find some answers and options within our community. At this past Rhody Parade, former mayor John Clise, was riding by in a convertible preceded by a sign for Quimper Village. We were curious about the group, so we contacted them. A local group of folks were planning to build a community geared towards the desires and needs of those 55 years of age and older whose principle residence was in the state of Washington. We were loaned a book and workshop guides, Senior CoHousing by Charles Durrett. He is an architect, author and advocate for CoHousing. The book outlined why there are people all over the United States who are choosing to live this way. Here is our amended excerpt from one of Chuck's workshop books:

Top 10 Reasons People Live in Cohousing

  1. Health and Longer Lives - an active social life helps us stay involved in activities that keep us fit in body and mind. Helping and working for and with others gives us a sense of purpose in our lives. Studies have shown this may lead to an actual extension of our physical and mental lives.
  2. Safety and Less Stress - our neighborhood unfolds just outside our front doors so we can watch out for and take care of each other and we can feel less vulnerable.
  3. Belonging - we all want to feel like a part of something. We want to feel important, feel like we have value, feel like we can contribute to the benefit of something that is of importance to ourselves, others and our community
  4. I Don't Want To Be A Burden - something many seniors say when referring to their children or other family members. Family can often live far away or have jobs, children and lives that take up much of their time. We don't want to add to their already full and stressed lives. We can have our own space and lives and if kids and family come for visits the time can be spent enjoying each other's company instead of doing projects, repairs or taking care of neglected business matters.
  5. Meals - common meals provide a place for companionship and an opportunity to share with neighbors and friends. Good food, good fun - makes good friends.
  6. Shared Resources - the community shares a garden, tools, laundry facilities, parking, art supplies, work projects and more.
  7. Friendship - allows people to build a community of peers - others to share conversation, meals, and activities with. Living near means friends and companionship are just steps away.
  8. Maintenance - upkeep on an older house gets to be too much work and can be a drain on energy, pocketbooks and time..
  9. House Size - the house we will live in will be smaller than the one we are currently in, yet will be designed and built to suit our needs. It will be energy efficient and easier to maintain. The common house, which we will all share, will still allow us a gathering place for meals, social activities, and meetings.
  10. Financial - sharing resources, sharing upkeep and maintenance costs, living and using facilities that are well built

Quote from William Thomas M.D.,
" The three plagues of Loneliness, Helplessness, and Boredom are plagues of the human spirit, not the human body, but they can be just as debilitating and just as deadly as any disease of the body."

After reading these books we wanted to learn more. We engaged with the group by attending their meetings and picnics to find out more about these individuals who had stepped up and decided to create this life for themselves. They were not only social pioneers but also welcoming, capable, intelligent, dynamic, let's make-it-happen people. They were fun to be with and were awesome cooks! So we have become members ourselves and are helping to make the dream a reality. As we move forward and welcome in other new members, one thing remains forefront in our minds - this community doesn't just fulfill our own desires to age gracefully with good and caring friends. It also provides a possible blueprint for our society for a better and more fulfilling way to live for aging generations of the future.

Bill and Kay Darlington
Port Townsend, WA