Air Date 6/10/2022
JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left podcast, in which we shall take a look at the emerging trend of various community housing styles people are using to build community, fight loneliness, and lighten the load of everyday chores and tasks.
Clips today include a TEDx talk from Trish Becker-Hafnor, Transforming Cities, Local Zero, the PBS Newshour, and The Foundation for Intentional Living, with additional members-only clips from Kristen Dirksen, Local Zero and Transforming Cities.
Cohousing The Future of Community and Human Connection Trish Becker-Hafnor - TEDx Talks - Air Date 1-13-20
TRISH BECKER-HAFNOR - SPEAKER, TED: [00:01:00] It's the end of a long day of work. You've come home to sit yourself in front of the TV. Maybe you're even simultaneously scrolling on your phone. You're either alone or sitting silently next to a loved one. And still you have this ache, this feeling that there just must be more to life than this.
My moment was sitting in the front of my suburban home, looking out over a sprawling lawn and into the darkened windows of a neighbor's house, and it occurred to me that I had lived there for two years, but had never stepped foot inside a neighbor's house. Not once. It was my partner and I's first home, and we were so excited to make it our own. So excited that we ignored that hint of reluctance that we were feeling, that little voice that said, are you sure this is what you want?
See, I've lived communally for the majority of my adult life. [00:02:00] Many of those years spent outside of the US, and yet still, at the age of 30, I too found myself caught up in the American dream, buying the biggest house that we could afford because I thought that's what we were supposed to do. But it just didn't feel right.
We were desperate to build community, so we joined the neighborhood Facebook groups. We invited neighbors over for dinner, and we tried to make friends while we were out walking our dogs.
But two years of suburban loneliness later, I became pregnant and immediately put everything about our existence under the microscope. Was this how we wanted to raise a child? We say that we value community, but is that what our daughter will see?
So, like any good millennial, I took to the internet and I learned more about the unexpected loneliness of new motherhood -- that amidst all of the challenges of new parenthood, I was actually likely to feel more isolated, [00:03:00] and in a time when I most needed the support of others. I was about to have a child, but I had no village.
Now I wanna dig deep on this loneliness piece for a minute, because loneliness is a silent but deadly force in our society. We are in the midst of a global loneliness epidemic, both in terms of its pervasiveness and its severity. In the US, half of us say that we feel lonely sometimes, or always. And in my culture, the aging population faces increased isolation. So it may not surprise you to hear that 46% of adults over 65 say that they feel lonely on a regular basis.
And hear this one: Another study of adults 65 and up showed that half of them considered the TV or a pet their main source of company.
And what's scary is that Gen Z is showing even higher rates of loneliness than the 65 and up [00:04:00] crowd. And it's killing us. People who are lonely are 32% more likely to die earlier than their more connected peers, making loneliness as harmful for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes per day.
So I'm back in my suburban home and I'm contemplating the toxicity of loneliness and capitalism and I start to think about the single family home. And I wonder, how did this become the symbol of the American dream? This isn't my dream. My dream is of a city where sprawling lawns and multi-car garages no longer set empty while thousands of our neighbors live without homes. Where instead, those spare garages and basements are converted into homes for friends, family members, tenants -- so that we can increase housing density and avoid the displacement caused by rising home values. [00:05:00] I want an evening where my phone sits untouched in the corner while I gather with my neighbors, and together we show my daughter how to make her first protest sign. [laughter] I want to build a micro village in the middle of the city, a collection of individual homes built around a common house where friends get together to make meals, babysit each other's kids, and play music around a bonfire.
These dreams aren't my own, and I know that. Because in January of 2017, just weeks after finding out I was pregnant with my first child, I found myself in a musty construction trailer with 30 strangers who had found their way to one another and another way of being. These 30 strangers and I would become the founding members of Denver's newest co-housing community. And we began to build our community before our physical home was even complete. So, co-housing: [00:06:00] it's a collection of individual homes built around common spaces where people eat together, make shared decisions, and share an ethos of living simply, sustainably, and in support of one another.
Now I know what you're thinking. It's. Not. A. Cult. [laughter] It's not. It's basically just the bonfire scene from earlier, just with a lot more committees and casseroles.
Co-housing is just one point on a wide spectrum of communal living models, and it's basically built on three principles: shared space, shared time, and shared values.
So in my community, we share several communal spaces. We have community gardens, patios, a living room, a library, and a large communal kitchen and dining room. And this is in addition to our individual homes, which are smaller than your average home, but still complete with all the amenities that you would expect.
We've also opted out of each owning our own lawnmower or bike [00:07:00] pump or bread maker. And instead, we share these things with our neighbors. We fight against consumerism and waste while reducing the cognitive overhead of having too much stuff, because studies show that having too much clutter in your home creates the same cortisol patterns as PTSD. So we just share some of our things.
We also have agreed to sharing our time, and we gather regularly for meals, special events, and meetings. Now, the shared meal is critical. Co-housing experts will tell you that the shared meal is the secret sauce of building community. Most groups gather one to three times a week for a casual meal. In my community, I serve on kitchen duty once every three months, but every single Sunday I get to just show up for a hot meal, hang out with my neighbors, and pass my toddler from lap to lap.
I read an article recently of the challenges of making friendships after the age of 30, and they cited two relevant factors that [00:08:00] are critical in making and sustaining friendships: proximity, and frequent and unplanned interactions.
It's a lot of work to maintain friendships when your besties live in all corners of the city or the world. And our schedules are so packed that we have to schedule a happy hour weeks in advance. Co-housing creates fertile ground for these relationships because we gather regularly for meals, and we catch up on the patio after work.
Katie McCamant of CoHousing Solutions - Transforming Cities - Air Date 8-24-22
CHRIS ARNOLD - HOST, TRANSFORMING CITIES: Tell the listeners a little bit about that first study abroad in Denmark. I mean, that seemed to be a massive turning point for you, certainly in your career, but kind of the sense of that your eyes were wide open after experiencing that first visit. What was it about that initial visit that really kind of got your gears turning?
KATIE MCCAMANT: Yeah, that first year, so it's a Danish International Studies program I talked myself into. I was coming out of a graphic design program trying to get into architecture, and this was very much an architecture program, so it was mostly guys with a lot [00:09:00] more experience than me. I mean, first of all, living in Copenhagen, I mean, you know, there is no more livable city. It's truly amazing to, you know, live in a city where, where as a young woman you feel really safe and just so walkable, bikeable. So that was a big influence. But also if you study architecture in Denmark, you study the history of housing development in Denmark and going back to, uh, getting people out of the tenements in the 1850s, there's been a very deliberate evolution and study about, how neighborhoods and housing affects people's health, how they raise their kids, how much fighting, and how many divorces. And so there's been this, you know, 150 years of analysis about how the built environment, and particularly housing, affects people. And that was really powerful to learn about and to really see the, you know, direct data, not just theories, but really that they had done the studies [00:10:00] and that it had really turned around and directly affected how they built social housing and how they did their zoning, because of that.
So, yeah, that had a huge.... and then that's where I was first introduced to co-housing. The first communities were just being built, and so that was like, Oh, oh!. And I thought, Well, if I'm hearing about this, I'm sure everybody back in the States already knows about that. Certainly anybody in architecture school would know about these communities. And, uh, when I got to UC Berkeley, I realized nobody knew about him. There was like this little Danish secret. So it was hard to get any information outside of Denmark about it.
CHRIS ARNOLD - HOST, TRANSFORMING CITIES: Yeah. I want to take one step back and mention this, uh, I coined it the fourth floor study, and it's something that you mentioned to me again in some of our earlier conversations. I thought it was very interesting and it makes perfect sense. And I don't know if this was a Danish study or where it came from, uh, but can you describe that to the listeners?, this idea of kind of community co-housing, walkability, it [00:11:00] all kind of ties together with just like the usability of a city or a town. And I thought this fourth floor marker was really fascinating.
KATIE MCCAMANT: Yeah, so you know, in the sixties a lot of social housing and public housing was becoming high-rise housing. And so that was sort of the general trend. And in Denmark there was one or maybe two television stations, so this was all long before I was there, but people, all sorts of people still talked about it. You know, you didn't have to be an architect to talk about it. I got told the same story so many different times that there had been a study about how people raising kids at different stories, you know, depending on the height of the building. And that after the fourth story, that people were much less likely to take their kids down to the playground, that there was much less connection between the outdoors, and therefore the health of the family. And because there's only one or two [00:12:00] television stations in Denmark at that time, they did, actually I think a series of a couple of big episodes on that, and the whole country saw it because that was what there was to watch on TV that night. So it really changed and affected, um, housing policy. And from there on they were really advanced in the low-rise housing, so social housing. There are very few high-rise housing developments in Denmark. And they really kept it sort of much lower rise, you know, density. They were definitely building with density, but because of the studies they did with sociologists really looking at it.
CHRIS ARNOLD - HOST, TRANSFORMING CITIES: Yeah. Yeah, really interesting. So you ended up, you mentioned this a couple minutes ago, but you ended up at UC Berkeley for architecture and you found yourself diving deep into a community project, I think it was your final semester. It had to do with tenant organizing and tenant built landscape projects, but there was a rent up of a section eight [00:13:00] housing project that you were working on, and you had some good kind of retrospects about that and how that sort of lit a fire for you with regards to co-housing in the States and some of that lack of knowledge and understanding about co-housing. Can you set the stage for us about that period and kind of how that leads into your career at large?
KATIE MCCAMANT: Yeah, I did, uh, was a year long, uh, I was an internship and I took my internship at Mission Housing, and that's in San Francisco, as an affordable housing developer. They're typical affordable housing projects at that time. They always ran out of money by the time they got to the landscaping. So you would find, you know, pretty interesting Section 8 housing around courtyards was pretty common, but there was no landscaping at all. And so, um, as an intern, they tasked me to do some tenant organizing, reach out to the tenants, help to build tenant organizations. And because of my background, and my, I had studied [00:14:00] projects like this in Denmark. I said, Well, can I do that as a landscape improvement project? So, what I did, you know, for a year there was I organized the tenants to come out and build, you know, improve their landscape. And we built trellises, planter boxes, little fences so people could have their yards, and really brought people together around something they could build.
And, you know, building stuff is very powerful. It's way more powerful than talking, right? So, when you can bring people out together and they actually create something. So then that led, there was a new project that was just finishing construction and I took those lessons into the rent up of that section eight project. And so we started with potlucks around each stairway. When those families moved in, we'd do a potluck, get to know each other. And then we did, I led another landscape improvement project where again, the tenants helped to build, so that they [00:15:00] helped create something to improve their own environment.
Cohousing communities help prevent social isolation - PBS Newshour - Air Date 2-12-17
SASKIA DE MELKER - REPORTER, PBS NEWSHOUR: This is the regular dinner scene at Saettedammen, a co-housing community 45 minutes outside Denmark's capitol of Copenhagen. Stig Brink, an architect, and his wife, an artist, and the teenage daughters they've raised here are responsible for tonight's meal for themselves and 20 neighbors in the common house.
STIG BRINCK: We eat together four times a week. For those who want to participate.
SASKIA DE MELKER - REPORTER, PBS NEWSHOUR: What's it like cooking for 25 people? How do you do that?
STIG BRINCK: First of all, we have a kitchen that's capable for it, and so we have the tools to do it, and that's very important.
SASKIA DE MELKER - REPORTER, PBS NEWSHOUR: Communal meals are a staple at Saettedammen, where 71 people live in 28 houses clustered around shared recreational and outdoor spaces, walkways, gardens, and parking, and a common house. Residents are expected to clean shared areas and take turns tending the grounds. Everyone shares resources like laundry facilities, [00:16:00] outdoor tools, and play equipment. Small groups of families rotate leading monthly community meetings.
STIG BRINCK: You live in kind of a small village. You know everybody around you and you share as much as possible. So you are a very close neighbor and you're, uh, kind of depending on each other, but you are not, um, obligated to any, um, strict rules.
SASKIA DE MELKER - REPORTER, PBS NEWSHOUR: The Saettedammen community is made up of a range of singles, couples, retirees, and families with children. Every family has privacy in a home with its own bedrooms, baths, and kitchen. The land is cooperatively owned, but residents own their homes, a structure similar to a condominium association in the US. The cost of homes here is comparable to other homes in the area, but an average size household pays about $3,500 a year for communal resources.
Saettedammen started 46 years ago and is recognized as the first co-housing community in the world. [00:17:00] Britta Bjerre and her husband, Arne, were among the first families to move in.
BRITTA BJERRE: [Through a translator] We didn't want our family to spend our lives in an insular way in a house on a suburban street somewhere. And one day we saw a newspaper ad saying that some people had their eyes on a plot of land and they were looking for 25 to 30 families to buy it and build houses, as well as a communal house
LISA BERKMAN: ...you share and there's a lot more efficiency...
SASKIA DE MELKER - REPORTER, PBS NEWSHOUR: Lisa Birkman, a professor of Public Policy and Epidemiology at Harvard University, says that co-housing hearkens back to the kinds of communities that used to naturally dominate our societies.
LISA BERKMAN: You know, when you think about the apartment buildings that were designed at the turn of the century, they were designed as two family houses, or three family houses, you know, each on a floor, and those enabled multi-generation households to live together and still have their own housing.
SASKIA DE MELKER - REPORTER, PBS NEWSHOUR: Berkman says that co-housing can reduce social isolation and the detrimental health effects associated with it.
LISA BERKMAN: Social isolation relates to the number of [00:18:00] ties and the quality of relationships that you have. Religious ties, community ties, work ties. People who are very isolated, who are disconnected, have a mortality rate that's about three times as high, that is there about three times as likely to die over maybe a decade as people who have many, many more ties.
SASKIA DE MELKER - REPORTER, PBS NEWSHOUR: 70-year-old Jytte Helle has lived in Saettedammen for 30 years.
JYTTE HELLE: [Through translator] It's important to me to be with a mixed group, not just with other older people, because then we would just talk about our diseases and aches and pains. Older people can't give the same energy as younger people can.
STIG BRINCK: So having um, neighbors and knowing their kids, I think that's just like, it's a benefit of having a big family.
SASKIA DE MELKER - REPORTER, PBS NEWSHOUR: Is this replacing the idea of the extended family?
STIG BRINCK: Indeed, it is. So, I see it very much as the extended family.
ELLA POULSEN: It's, like, nice to have a friend nearby [00:19:00] always, that you can talk to.
SASKIA DE MELKER - REPORTER, PBS NEWSHOUR: 14-year old Ella Poulsen has lived in Saettedammen her whole life.
ELLA POULSEN: It's kind of like everyone's a parent and everybody will, uh, take care of the kid if there's something wrong and, uh, if the parents aren't there. And, uh, I think it's just very safe.
SASKIA DE MELKER - REPORTER, PBS NEWSHOUR: It's estimated that at least 1% of the Danish population lives in co-housing arrangements. In the United States, the Co-Housing Association of America estimates there are about 150 communities. Rocky Hill Cohousing in Northampton, Massachusetts was established 12 years ago. It has 28 households with residents ranging from age two to 80. With a similar financial model to Saettedammen, Rocky Hill has a variety of common spaces, resources, activities, and shared chores.
CAROL REINHARDT: I love knowing that, uh, somebody's out there plowing the path, you know, on a snowy morning. That's lovely. Knowing that there are mixed ages of people who can help with [00:20:00] keeping the place up. And we have our jobs divided.
SASKIA DE MELKER - REPORTER, PBS NEWSHOUR: Carol Reinhardt is 72 years old and just retired from her job as a hospice coordinator. She's lived at Rocky Hill since its formation.
CAROL REINHARDT: You don't get up someday in the morning and say, you know, I think this is the day I'm gonna have a community. You know, you build a community.
SASKIA DE MELKER - REPORTER, PBS NEWSHOUR: The number of Americans 65 and older is expected to nearly double by 2050. According to the Pew Research Center, 61% say they would prefer to stay in their homes even when they can no longer take care of themselves. That's compared to 17% who would opt for an assisted living facility. Just 8% would prefer to move in with a family member.
LISA BERKMAN: So this is kind of interesting...
SASKIA DE MELKER - REPORTER, PBS NEWSHOUR: Harvard Professor Lisa Birkman says co-housing allows people to age in their homes.
LISA BERKMAN: With the aging of the population and the increasing frailty that people will experience as they age, at some point, everybody needs a little help. Americans are particularly vulnerable to social isolation, [00:21:00] in part because we value independence so much. And because we're so mobile and we live in a very, very big country.
SASKIA DE MELKER - REPORTER, PBS NEWSHOUR: Berkman says that while older Americans are especially vulnerable to social isolation, young families often struggle to maintain social networks as they juggle work and family. College Professor Gary Felder, lives at the Rocky Hill Cohousing community with his wife and their two young children. He says their social life is built-in, unlike other families who don't live in a co-housing arrangement.
GARY FELDER: You gotta arrange babysitting, and you gotta figure out the timing, and then you gotta rush back and so on. And that was just never a big deal for us. We would put our kids down, we would throw in a baby monitor, and we would go spend an evening with our friends. Every week.
SASKIA DE MELKER - REPORTER, PBS NEWSHOUR: Right next door to the common house.
GARY FELDER: Yeah, absolutely. And if one of our kids woke up, two minutes later we were in the bedroom.
SASKIA DE MELKER - REPORTER, PBS NEWSHOUR: Felder admits that this lifestyle isn't for everyone, and about one family a year decides to leave.
GARY FELDER: The biggest challenge is that you're making [00:22:00] decisions with 27 other households. That is the definition of hell for some people.
SASKIA DE MELKER - REPORTER, PBS NEWSHOUR: But Felder says that for his family, the benefits they get from an intergenerational community outweigh the difficulties.
GARY FELDER: The other thing which our kids get, which is even more rare in this society, is they have regular interactions with elders, with seniors. They're very aware of the whole process of people getting older and retiring and having physical problems and dying.
SASKIA DE MELKER - REPORTER, PBS NEWSHOUR: Rocky Hill residents are coming up with new guidelines to help aging community members, including ride sharing and connecting residents with financial and medical services.
Katie McCamant of CoHousing Solutions Part 2 - Transforming Cities - Air Date 8-24-22
CHRIS ARNOLD - HOST, TRANSFORMING CITIES: I think there's a lot to talk about here, and I know you have some great thoughts on why they make great neighborhoods and why cities should encourage them, especially in the US where the single family home and some of these mass neighborhoods are being developed in a way that has become really problematic for society at large. [00:23:00] Talk to us about co-housing and what don't we know? Why do they make great neighborhoods?
KATIE MCCAMANT: Yes, you know, it's funny. I think that Americans are on one hand desperate for community and on the other hand scared to death of it. And my theory is that if you dropped most Americans into the middle of co-housing community and they woke up there, they would say, wow, what a great place. But choosing it is very hard for people because we're very, very concerned about losing our autonomy. And I think that's actually gotten worse with each generation because I feel like we're raised with fewer and fewer community obligations, whereas, you know, a hundred years ago, you know, of course you went to church. Of course you showed up for the neighborhood potluck. Of course you helped raise the barn. But now it's, I don't think we even have those sort of expectations that people are growing up with.
So I think that, you know, when I look at the history of [00:24:00] humanity, it's like people have always lived in villages and tribes. The idea that an ever smaller family is supposed to take care of all of its needs - mowing the lawn, maintaining the house, watching the kids - is, by itself, is really kind of absurd. And that is the radical thing. That's the radical idea. The single family house. The idea that people live in communities where you kind of keep an eye out for each other, you work together on things of mutual benefit, that's ancient. That's the way people have always lived. So I think to me, you know, I can really speak from my own personal experience. You know, it's a fabulous way to raise kids, you know, one of the only places you'll find that same sense of freedom that I grew up with, where you can just send the kids outdoor and so it's like, go find something else to do out there. And you know, you've got a lot of eyes on, they'll be safe. [00:25:00] They find other kids, kids of different ages playing together and that there's a spontaneous social life, right? That it's not all about appointments and play dates or at any age, whether that's for a five year old or a 35 year old, you know, that is a spontaneous social life that you don't have to spend a lot of time organizing.
CHRIS ARNOLD - HOST, TRANSFORMING CITIES: Yeah. Truly what you've said, and we've had a couple conversations leading up to this podcast, but, you know, these are conversations that I've actually taken back to my wife, and we've talked about this because I think you hit the nail on the head and it strikes a chord. And I think, you know, I certainly was raised in single family homes. We didn't, you know, thankfully I was around, you know, some neighborhoods that had kids around and I had a few friends here and there. But you know, as I've gotten older, I've realized, and especially now that I have a family of my own, it is much more difficult to feel like you're connected to anything outside of your home unless you make significant effort to go out and find it or to stick yourself into some community. [00:26:00] And, um, one of the things that you mentioned when we spoke last time is that there's a lack of a safety net for this society at large, which is now turning into depression, mental health issues, and it's not all connected specifically to this idea of single family housing, of course, but I do think that that plays a large part in it and it's definitely something that's got me thinking about, you know, with a young child now, how do I make sure that we're not siloed, you know, every day of the week and he's not getting out there to see the world and interacting with other kids and adults in situations? And, um, I think that's very fascinating and a little bit sad, too, that the United States has moved so far away from a sense of community when it comes to housing.
KATIE MCCAMANT: Yes. And you know, I mean, we're social beings, so most of us find some way to create a sense of community, but most of us drive to it. So you know, you're gonna be driving your kid to play dates, you drive to meet up with your friends, your [00:27:00] wife drives to meet up with friends for a walk or a hike. And so that's sort of the other side. So for me it was always this dual thing of changing demographics in America and how do we adapt neighborhoods to meet those changing demographics.
And on the other hand is, you know, I was driven to architecture because I wanted to save the world and use less energy and build solar homes, and I really feel like the way that I can most impact sustainability is affecting the American middle class. It's not about the extraordinary building that nobody else can do again, but the American Middle class and the lifestyle that we've all been told that we should be working really hard to achieve uses an enormous amount of the Earth's resources.
I mean, every single person on the block's gotta have their own lawnmower. Everybody's gotta drive to pick up an onion instead of going and knocking on the door next [00:28:00] door. And so, those two things really came together for me in community of a better life that uses a lot less of the Earth's resources. So for me that was like the magic combination of things.
Cohousing Communities of Ann Arbor — Episode 4 of Planet Community - Foundation for Intentional Community - Air Date 1-17-19
MARY KING: So I think that Great Oak's purpose is to provide. A safe and nurturing environment for people to live together. And as our vision says in harmony and in dissonance it's actually been interesting to me too how we have continued to even expand our economic. Diversity within the community because after we moved in, people figured out pretty quickly that they could have a renter, and so people started renting out their bedrooms.
I happened to live in a unit that has a walkout basement. I converted my walkout basement to a one bedroom apartment, and other people did the same thing. So now in addition to owners, we have a [00:29:00] significant number of renters, which means younger people. It means people who don't have as much means in order to be able to, afford a mortgage.
Edge. So it's really expanded the economic diversity in the community, which I think is really wonderful.
EDITH LEWIS: My name is Edith Lewis and I live at Sunwood. Cohousing. When I was growing up, we had Hyde Park. We had the six flat, that was my whole family on my father's side. And then we had the projects where my mother's first cousins lived.
I was living in community all the time, and because we lived with all of those different kinds of people, my children, Learn to think of that as being real community. The children were gathering the sandbox. Here are these two and three and four year olds gathering together and playing, and they made up a new language.
They weren't speaking Arabic, just. Arabic or Spanish or German, they weren't speaking any [00:30:00] of those languages directly, but they were speaking a new language that they had created and I said,
MUSIC: this is what community means.
EDITH LEWIS: My experiences of living at Sunwood initially did not meet my expectations. In that I wasn't prepared to continue to explain myself and those I cared about.
We had lovely buddies on in two parts of the community who helped to orient us to the C, the composting, the ways in which we governed ourselves, how to manage the book of agreements. Et cetera. What I wasn't prepared for was the inability of people to feel safe [00:31:00] around other people they didn't know. Even though I'd been introduced at the community meeting.
To folks and then we'd been to dinners and we'd done all of the things that people have ex had expected of us to have to e explain to my neighbors that I actually lived here. I wasn't prepared for that. Our community is learning to deal with issues of privileged oppression. There have been attempts in all of the seven years that I have been a part of this community to do as people come in, I find that we have to do it again and again. We've. We've had wonderful external consultants come in. We've tried to do it with internal folks over time. What I think is most promising now is to have the book club that has been developed here doing the work. Most people, [00:32:00] it's a book Love for White people about white issues, about how to manage diversity.
Because they have to manage whiteness first. When I was eventually hospitalized with the heart, Trouble. It was my neighbors who came to visit, other people came to visit. I have lots of friends. I'm not friendless by any stretch of the imagination, but it really meant a lot to me for people to come and to just sit for a while or to say, Edie, can we do the.
Can we do your laundry? Can we water the plants? Can we do whatever? That meant a lot to me
EDITH LEWIS: we had someone die very recently watching my neighbors care enough to sit vigil for her to put her picture all over the common house to be present for her family at the time. [00:33:00] Of her death and when her son had a birthday two weeks later to make a big card that we all could sign and put on the front porch, they weren't ready to have people there yet, but they were ready to have that child have the card.
That's what this place can, can't do. Can be.
GREG AUSTIC: So one of the nice things about three communities being together is that it's easier to make a satisfying social life. Great Oak actually has a great fun committee which is an oxymoron. They put on events like they just had the Summer Harvest Moon Festival. Sunbird has events like the Conscious Cafe every Wednesday, which is really great, and people from here go to we do lots of spontaneous things like movies in the Common House or campfires outside.
For me, [00:34:00] the main benefit all the way back in college until now is about efficiency, which again, is. It's not, I'm not like a touchy feely co-housing person. It makes sense that when you walk out your door, you should see your friends. It makes sense that. Three people should cook for 50 people.
MARY KING: I love the meals program.
I love cooking for the meals program. I dreaded cooking every night when I lived on my own.
GREG AUSTIC: We don't have any explicit policies for going outside the norm for reducing waste. We have, you recycling, we have a shared bull. Often we have compost. But besides that, we don't do, for example, car sharing, explicit car sharing.
People certainly do share cars. So most of what we do is, , outside of our core function, which is meals and , shared grounds and things like [00:35:00] that. It's all up to people to do. But yeah, I'm sure that our carbon footprint as a community is lower than your typical community.
MARY KING: We keep a copy of Community's magazine right here in our sitting room, and I've read articles from that I thought were really useful. In fact, the last edition I thought brought home this kind of universal struggle that we're having in co-housing about bringing more racial diversity to our communities.
In addition to that, we use the website ic.org, as a resource for finding out about other communities across the United
EDITH LEWIS: but we're beginning to understand how important it is to build a community that accommodates people from one end of the life. Cycle to the other and be conscious
MUSIC: about that.
EDITH LEWIS: [00:36:00] All people wanna live not just with old people, not just with young people, but with people from across the life cycle. Lots of communities can't do that, and it's not always possible to do that. But here I think we can make a conscious effort, and that's really
Cohousing The Future of Community and Human Connection Trish Becker-Hafnor Part 2 - TEDx Talks - Air Date 1-13-20
TRISH BECKER-HAFNOR - SPEAKER, TED: So in addition to shared space and shared time, we enter community with a shared commitment to valuing each individual.
In the early days, the days of the construction trailer, our greatest challenge was to decide on our collective decision-making process. So in my community, we use a modified version of consensus, which means we don't vote, but rather we keep working until we've found a solution that works for everyone.
We value the process over efficiency. But yes, it can be grueling at times. In my very first meeting, we dove headfirst into a discussion of whether or not guns should be allowed within each of our individual [00:37:00] homes. The conversation was lengthy, it was deliberative. And it was very emotional. And yet, doesn't that reflect what community asks of us? Community demands our time, our labor, and that every voice is heard and valued in the process.
My favorite thing about co-housing is the sharing of wisdom and support across the generations. My community ranges in age from one to 80, and the best connections happen between individuals at opposite ends of the spectrum. My daughter learned to walk while holding the walker of one of her many adoring aunties.
It's the village that I'd always imagined. We support each other. We drive each other to doctor's visits, share old family recipes, and fix broken computers. But mostly we just offer our presence. Co-housing is the difference between saying to a neighbor, call me if you need anything, and saying, I'm [00:38:00] always here, and we always need each other.
So much about the world is changing around us, and it's not all bad. We're learning to value people over possessions and memories over money. Even companies are embracing flexible work schedules and unlimited time off because the workforce is saying, first and foremost, I'm a human being.
And we're learning the value of sharing our resources. A decade ago, our collective jaws would have dropped to think that we would stay in a stranger's home for our vacation, or hop in the car of someone that we'd never met. Now we have apps designed to help us share our tools, our vehicles, barter our time. We are in the midst of a movement.
And yet, as innovation speeds along, making the world smaller, faster, and more accessible, our eyes still fall more often to our screens than the faces of [00:39:00] our loved ones. And with artificial intelligence and automation on the horizon, we are looking at a dramatic depletion in our opportunities to simply be in the presence of another human being.
So, what if we valued creative approaches to community as much as we value creative approaches to productivity?
Now co-housing is not for everyone. Some may find it invasive or manufactured or just too much togetherness. But capitalism will not bend over backwards to make sure that you have a life of human connection and meaning. It won't. In fact, it will do everything in its power to deprive you of those things in exchange for efficiency, productivity, and consumption. So I've learned that we simply have to create the environments in which we want to live. We must build our own [00:40:00] villages.
For many of you, co-housing is not the village of your dreams, but maybe still you crave a stronger sense of community. Maybe that looks like starting a tool library, or creating a rotating meal plan with your neighbors, or converting that spare garage into a rental property or a common house for your block. We all have the power to create and live in little villages just by taking our existing neighborhoods and infusing them with some of the principles of co-housing.
My family and I have recently outgrown our first community. Once again, we find ourselves in the early stages of building space for communal living. We're creating an intergenerational micro village in the middle of the city. Armed with the lessons of already having built a co-housing community from the ground up, we're prepared for a long and challenging journey, but one that's fueled [00:41:00] by a desire for authentic human connection and mutual support.
Three months after my daughter was born, she was abruptly hospitalized with a life-threatening infection. We held her night after night as she was connected to tubes and devices, and we were awoken by hourly doctor's visits. We were visited often by family and friends, but still felt rather alone in our fear and in our grief.
After a week in the hospital, we returned home to our co-housing community with a recovering infant, dropped our bags in the dark entryway and absorbed what we had been through and what lie ahead. That amidst all of the challenges of new parenthood, we now had a fresh trauma of having feared for our own child's life.
My daughter cried with hunger and our heart sink as we thought of our home that had sat vacant for a week. Lights darkened and food rotting in the refrigerator. Still, we mustered [00:42:00] the strength to make ourselves a meal. And as I opened the refrigerator door, I burst into tears, because a neighbor had let themselves in and filled it with fresh groceries. In a time that's notoriously isolating, those first months of new parenthood. Instead of feeling lost, lonely, and scared, we felt loved, supported and held.
Co-housing is not for everyone, but human connection is. So for those of you out there with that longing, that ache, that belief that there's more to life than work, home, work and night spent in front of the TV, for those of you out there, you must know that there are others who share that longing.
Now, go and find each other.
Jack Kerouac's boarding-house now co-living for creatives - Kirsten Dirksen - 11-7-20
RESIDENT: There's not any sort of forced mission. It's like, really, it is just focused on like living in harmony with all these other people. [00:43:00]
SARA McERE, "THE ESTABLISHMENT" OWNER: Yeah. This is good. I'd moved up from Santa Monica Canyon in the seventies. I saw in the paper, "19-room fixer upper." And I thought, that's interesting, cuz I am a architecture junkie, I'd say.
INTERVIEWER: Did you consider trying to make it into apartments or something? I mean, no. You wanted to do --
SARA McERE, "THE ESTABLISHMENT" OWNER: 19 rooms. I wanted to do 19 rooms.
INTERVIEWER: Of communal living? Was that your idea from the beginning?
SARA McERE, "THE ESTABLISHMENT" OWNER: Yes. Yes.
INTERVIEWER: Why was that?
SARA McERE, "THE ESTABLISHMENT" OWNER: My son had died, yeah, I think that was three months before I got this. I was having a really hard time. He was 19 and he was this kind of person. He loved a lot. So he was just the kind of person that would be in here.
It was that kind of people, people you like. It was actually people who I like, the kind of values that I like.
MARK GRAYSON: Another amazing thing is if we look over here, how many [00:44:00] houses still have people to play board games and put puzzles together? So at night, you'll see people digging in here and actually hanging out here.
VARIOUS RESIDENTS: It's kind of nonsense.
Nonsense. Is he bluffing? This like poker where you bluff?
There is no bluffing in this game. That's why you.
MARK GRAYSON: Usually a landowner doesn't wanna see this kind of chaos. God bless Sarah McEre for wanting to keep this place exactly what it is.
RESIDENT: There's no serving spoons for anything.
MARK GRAYSON: She could boot everybody out and gussy it up and make a bed and breakfast out of it, and it'd be worth so much money. But instead, she has decided to keep it as I'll call a safe haven, that's not price -- this is still the most affordable place to be in town, and it attracts the creative, [00:45:00] the kooky, and it gives 'em a place to be.
I can't recall how many years ago it was, but there was a new ordinance in San Louis Obispo where they did not want to see the dumpsters because they're unclean, so they had to be behind closed doors. So the artists here decided to paint exactly what's behind door number one.
As San Louis experiences gentrification, even the industrial parks, all the artists are gone.
RESIDENT: This is Joel's room. [knocks on door]
JOEL: Oh. Hey..
RESIDENT: What are you composing?
JOEL: Yeah, I was working on some beats.
There's this nice acoustic piano that was gifted to me by an old roommate.
RESIDENT: He's good [00:46:00] with that.
JOEL: [Playing piano] So I moved too slow, like a couple bucks in my pocket. I think a sublease opened up here, I just stayed.
INTERVIEWER: So are you often in here playing?
RESIDENT: It's not a problem, like noise wise. We've kind of outlawed drum sets, but really beyond that it's not too disturbing.
RESIDENT: I think like most of the music played here right now is just like, is lovely to hear.
INTERVIEWER: It's not like you're practicing.
RESIDENT: Yeah. The drum sets. Yeah, that's like the thing. No drum sets.
INTERVIEWER: So living here, are you able to do, I mean, is it cheaper to live here? So therefore, does that affect your [00:47:00] lifestyle? Are you able to do this more because you can work less, or...?
JOEL: I found that living here just allowed me just to explore what I can do as a person. It's like something that's been very welcomed here, it's allowed you to explore yourself, figure out who you are. A way to be affordable like this, and to be with people you actually like, it's like a dream come true, really.
INTERVIEWER: No one said how much it costs to live here. What's the --
RESIDENT: Ballpark right now is like around 600. Yeah. Most people pay 590.
MARK GRAYSON: The other thing that's really funny is people say, "You live with 19 other people, 18 other people? How can you do that?" And I say, very easily. And I've counted more than 10 people cooking in the kitchen and we all make enough room for each other. With all these people, maybe once a week you'll see a wrapper from a burrito, but like there's zero fast food comes in this place. [00:48:00] Zero. And the green waste organic bucket is way bigger than the trash can. Yeah, these people eat good. They taught me how to cook.
The kitchen and the den, we've made them cell-free zones. So the common phrase is if somebody pulls that thing out, you say, "Would you put that back in your pocket? If you need to do a call or a text, you go somewhere else. Here is where we socialize. Here is where we're human."
RESIDENT: And speak of a weird thing too, where like now if I'm in other public spaces, even just in a coffee shop and somebody answers their phone, it feels very rude to me. It feels like you're like separating yourself in the rest of us. Other people don't feel that way.
Micro grid energy and community cohousing - Local Zero - 5-4-22
MONICA KING: So co-housing is a form of living whereby, uh, a group cheny organizes a number of homes and a common house, and the homes are private space, but the common house is shared by everybody.[00:49:00]
So, uh, it, it offers a whole range of benefits such as you can have smaller homes because, um, I don't need a big dining room if I can use the common House to hold a party or invite all my friends around. Um, and I don't need a, a spare bedroom if we've got guest accommodation. That's the way it works. It's usually started by the people who want to live in it.
That's the normal arrangement. And as you develop the project, you also are developing a community. So we regularly advertise to people about what we are trying to do and if they're interested, come and talk to us and join us and help us make it happen. Um, I've been doing this pretty much full-time for 13 years, so it is not, um, a speedy process, but actually it will be faster in future because, um, the groups are.
Other groups have pioneered this and they take a long time as well. But now there's, there's a, there is, there is more support, [00:50:00] um, in the planning system and government funding system or projects like ours. But you've still got to satisfy them, um, you know, all the le the legality and all that
MATT HANNON - CO-HOST, LOCAL ZERO: sort of thing, so Absolutely.
So, so it's, it's not a small development. These are 53 homes that you are developing, as I understand, and something as you say, has been in development for, for, for 12 years or more. Um, I just wanted you to tell me a little bit more about. How the, the principles of co-housing, how you've taken these and a, applied them against some of the principles of environmental sustainability.
Because I can imagine you could develop a co-housing, um, development without it being a sustainable one. So how, how key is the notion of clean green living to your vision of co-housing?
MONICA KING: What's key to ours? And generally, I would say that most co-housing groups aim to be greener. Because the origins of co-housing really are in, uh, [00:51:00] Denmark in the sixties.
And so all those hippies that we like to make jokes about, um, some of the values that they've purported are gradually now 50 years later coming good. Our aim is that people have an affordable way of life, so it's not just an affordable home. But that, um, by reducing their consumption and expenditure, they will, they will have a better quality of life.
And so therefore, um, a, a microgrid, when Damon came and talked to us about it, we thought this will be tactic. This is just, is it just what we needed? Because we have promised that we will reduce our bender chair's households by 40% in the first four years. So going from a, a gas cooker to, uh, the induction hub from our own electricity rule has a huge impact on our bills.
DR. REBECCA FORD - CO-HOST, LOCAL ZERO: just, uh, you mentioned about, you know, the switch from gas to induction. [00:52:00] What are the other things that people are really experiencing as you start to implement that microgrid? So, so where? Where is the difference? I mean, are people seeing the end generation right there and then are they directly investing in it?
Um, you know, what is the real kind of experience for people living in this, in this, uh, cooperative housing with a microgrid compared to what they might have had before? Well, we
MONICA KING: are, this is a little bit premature to answer you because nobody's actually moved in yet. So the first people be moving in, in August.
The sort of changes that we made were by the, that we had people that didn't want to give up gas cooking. But we persuaded them that, um, an induction Hal is as good as a gas cooker. And so we'd like to find out whether that is true. And also, of course, we haven't had to pipe gas, you know, so there's thousands of pounds that it costs to connect to the gas grid and to pipe the gas around the site cost a huge impact in what a co-housing group can do.
Um, and we've had to compromise [00:53:00] right, left and center. But we have managed to stick to many of our green intention.
DR. REBECCA FORD - CO-HOST, LOCAL ZERO: So folk haven't moved in yet, but they've been intricately involved with the development. With the, with the microgrid. Do, do they, do they have shares in the ownership? Uh, what? And, and can they, can they see it?
Is it, is it there and then is it going to be a visceral experience for them? Or is it something that's really just kind of behind the scenes?
MONICA KING: Oh, no, it's, it's going to be in a particular spot on our site, um, to the northeast. And so it'll be like a little bit of ped ground, you know, fenced off. Obviously they keep our kids safe and everybody else, no, it won't, it won't be hidden.
I don't really know about, um, our people investing. I mean, our, my husband and I have invested in other energy groups around our area and, and, but we haven't invested in this one because, He didn't have any money at the time. Um, so I dunno what individuals have done, but it's more to do [00:54:00] more I think, is that our, our big commitment is that we have taken this on.
We want, we want this to happen. And in a way, um, it's, it's, there's an element of pioneering and co-housing itself is pioneering, uh, because you're going against society's normal way of doing things. And similarly with going for microgrid, you know,
MATT HANNON - CO-HOST, LOCAL ZERO: it's, um, Well, you're doing it twice. You're doing it twofold, right?
You're doing two things against the grain. Yeah. Normally centralized power, normally major housing developers, building, you know, identifi housing. And even
MONICA KING: with it, I'm sorry, I'm speaking over you, but No, no. Um, I, when I get going to tell my am point cvs, think about me. Um, but, but also, not only are we going against, um, the sort of normal way of doing things, but we, we also, we use sociocracy as a way of working together.
That combined with us being a community benefit society means that everybody who's part of the group is required to speak. You know, so [00:55:00] either, okay, if you don't know enough to be able to answer sensibly, fair enough, hold your fire and tell you no more. But the idea is that we wanna hear from everybody.
And so we make decisions by consent, and that means if somebody has an objection, we welcome it. Because they've seen a flaw in what we are proposing. I mean, it might be one that we can just change by delaying it, you know, saying, okay, will it, or we try it for three months and see if it works or, But nonetheless, I really like the fact that people are encouraged to speak
MATT HANNON - CO-HOST, LOCAL ZERO: up.
So that's an interesting topic, which we've touched upon on the pod before around citizens assemblies, obviously a different format there rather than you, you are inviting the views of, of the community, but not maybe a community that. Co-owns and co governs a particular entity in, in your case, a housing, housing association.
How do you find that process? I mean, I'm assuming this is, uh, an uninformed position. I'm assuming this is a long, laborious process, but ultimately leads [00:56:00] to decisions which people have bought into. It
MONICA KING: varies, actually. Sometimes decisions that you think might take forever are actually done within 10 minutes.
You know, it can be, it's, you know, sociocracy aims to be expected. And efficient and, and there are times when it really is, and even we are surprised, but to be honest, because within a group there's a lot of different people and views. What you really want is everybody to feel hers, everybody's views to be considered and everybody to know that even though they, they didn't really get exactly what they wanted, they were part of it.
Katie McCamant of CoHousing Solutions Part 3 - Transforming Cities - Air Date 8-24-22
CHRIS ARNOLD - HOST, TRANSFORMING CITIES: Why doesn't co-housing catch on or why hasn't it caught on? And it seems to me like this should be an on fire topic in real estate for my generation and the generation behind me. And I'm scratching my head a little bit because you know, you have conversations around density, you have conversations around, you know, single family new builds for rent.
You know, there's all these sort of like on fire [00:57:00] topics right now. So it seems like maybe there's a marketing problem here and also an education issue here. I know it's more complicated than that, but, but I would be curious to hear how you break that down and what you think about that.
KATIE MCCAMANT: Yeah. Well, I think, I mean, I do think it's an education issue and, and our success with the term co-housing.
I had an interesting, I had some, uh, master's students that were doing a, they did a, a research project about 10 years ago. And they're based in the San Francisco Bay area. So they, they asked around, and what they found in, you know, and this of course is Northern California, where co-housing is probably better known than most places.
But what they found is everybody thought they knew what co-housing was, and very few people actually knew what it was. So the term is good and bad that way it often gets confused with co-living. Right, and so the idea of co-housing is that you have your own individual [00:58:00] private home, that you still have that, whether it's a small.
One bedroom, two bedroom, or a big four bedroom that you have your own house. And so you have more balance between privacy and community with that. So, so on one hand it's just helping people understand that what, you know, what you really get, that you can close the door, you can pull back, you're not, you know, I cannot tell you, you wouldn't believe, Chris, the number of presentations I have done where I specifically show the private kitchen many times.
And I get to the end of it and somebody raises their hand and says, oh, but I just can't imagine eating every meal with all these people. It's like, well, I can't either.
CHRIS ARNOLD - HOST, TRANSFORMING CITIES: Yeah. It's not Definitely summer camp do that. Right?
KATIE MCCAMANT: Yeah. So, you know, so I think we, we kind of blinders on about what's possible and we have a huge, you know, we have a hundred years of really strong propaganda for the single family [00:59:00] house.
So it's hard to break through that. And then the whole development process, I mean, is really designed around suburb, about single family homes now. I mean even, even today, I mean it's really shocking to me how few people are building condominiums in American cities. You can get dense rentals or you can jump out to the single family house and there is so little being done in that missing middle in between.
So people have a very hard time imagining this. And I would say the thing that I'm really shocked about that today, you know, I feel like I've been, well, have been, I've been talking about co-housing for over 30 years. Right? They families like yours, like they never, it's still a shock. To every single couple it seems that has a kid and realizes, oh my God, this totally changes our life and not, you know, the kid's wonderful, but what we can do and how we, our day-to-day lifestyles [01:00:00] been changed and, and, or were still unprepared for that.
I had a woman who was working for me last year and we had this conversation, a New York Times article came out about parenting and community, and that really got a lot of conversation going. You know, she said, you know, we thought we were real success story. We could afford a single family house. We could afford for me to stay home.
And it was awful. I'd drive 45 minutes for baby yoga just to connect with somebody else. Right. You know? And so I think it's still a surprise to most young parents how isolated you are so quickly. Yeah. Yeah. I think it's something that pandemic working home and it just gets worse. Right? It just builds on
CHRIS ARNOLD - HOST, TRANSFORMING CITIES: itself.
So yeah, it, I can check all of those boxes confidently and say it was during the pandemic, you know, X, Y, and Z and, and it's, it's something you. You can prepare for as much as you want, but you don't, you just don't know until, you know, and, and once you're in it, you're in it. Right. And there's no turning back.
[01:01:00] And it's a thing, like I said, we've talked about it quite a bit and it's something where, you know, making sure, uh, we find ways to stay connected and have community, and obviously we're not living in, in co-housing. But it, everything you're saying again, just, just makes a lot of sense. Um, a lot of sense, especially for young families.
It's a huge deal.
KATIE MCCAMANT: Mm-hmm. So I think it's, it's interesting cuz community means the most to people. When you're kind of stuck at home. So that's sort of young families with young kids and older people or teens. Teens are the other ones who kind of really get screwed by our car oriented world. Is there, unless you live in the city with good bus system, you're really isolated.
Right? Um, and so they're in between times you have a lot more mobility and I think you don't notice it as much. And that's the beauty of the intergenerational community. I mean, we really, we really see two strong markets that really push cohousing forward. So one is young families. The problem with young [01:02:00] families is you don't have any time to think.
So it's a harder like, oh yeah, now I'm supposed to start organizing meetings to organize a community. Right? That's a, mm-hmm. A hard time to take that on. But the other thing we, you know, we really see a lot of interest is from older people. Who do have more time to think, you know, there's this moment when you're looking at retirement and all of a sudden the world opens up in a different way and you could live anywhere.
And so it, there's, and there's a little more time in your life at that stage to be more deliberate about, well, you know, do we wanna move to a 55 plus community or do we wanna stay in our house? Or do we wanna, you know, what do we wanna do? And so that's who's really driving the co-housing movement today.
Is people looking at retirement and looking for other options and what's out there.
Final comments on a couple of undervalued benefits of cohousing
JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips today starting with a TEDx Talk from Trish Becca Hefner. Transforming Cities talked with Katie McCamant about the co-housing movement in Denmark. The PBS NewsHour did a full report on [01:03:00] co-housing in Denmark. Transforming Cities then looked at some of the communal and mental health benefits of co-housing. The Foundation for Intentional Living addressed diversity and racism in a co-housing situation. And we finished off with the end of Trish Becca Hefner's TEDx Talk. That's what everybody heard, but members also heard bonus clips from Kirsten Dirkson presenting a co-housing example built in Jack Kerouac's boarding house. Local Zero looked at a community seeking to implement a microgrid into their co-housing construction. Transforming Cities continued their conversation with Katie McCamant about the misconceptions people have about co-housing.
To hear that and have all of our bonus content delivered seamlessly to the new members-only podcast feed that you'll receive, sign up to support the show at bestoftheleft.com/support or shoot me an email requesting a financial hardship, membership because we don't let a lack of funds stand in the way of hearing more information.
And now I just wanna highlight a couple of features of co-housing that I [01:04:00] think either go misunderstood or underappreciated. I was talking with a friend recently about this idea in general and like me, he and his wife are both introverts and so his primary concern was about the possibility that it would be hard to get away from people. You know, on one hand seeing people is great, but introverts need time alone to sort of recharge. So, what if having all these people around made that impossible or at least very difficult? And that's why I just played that clip there at the end. Members got the extended version, but everyone heard that misconception being addressed. Lots of people like the idea of having community nearby, but also want the flexibility to retreat from it when needed. That sort of flexibility is precisely what most of these communities have in mind, to put each individual in control of exactly how much they want to engage. I think that's probably important for most people around the [01:05:00] world, but particularly for Americans who have grown up in a very individualistic culture.
To make communities like this work, they need to have that sort of sensitivity to people's needs so that everyone feels comfortable. There are other sort of more niche communities that we didn't have time to highlight today that offer far less privacy and actually consider that a selling point. For instance, there's a company called Sharepod in LA and San Diego, I think, that basically offers adult versions of bunk beds in more of a dorm room style living arrangement and the people who live there are generally more transitory and are almost exclusively people in their twenties. So you can imagine how that might be a good fit for some people like that, but be an absolute living nightmare for others. But the overall goal of building community, fighting, loneliness, and providing higher density, lower housing costs, all [01:06:00] while using less energy and resources is the same across the board.
So, knowing that that flexibility is out there is the first step, and then the question is just to find the community that best fits you personally. Also, there's one other thing that I wanna highlight. There's the question of the amount of work that is required to take care of family needs. We were just having this conversation completely separate from the topic of co-housing, but we were talking with friends about the mismatch between the amount of work it takes to maintain a life and the number of hours available to us. You know, if you only look at your working hours and then the things you sort of want to do, it feels like you might be able to squeeze it all in. But what happens to a lot of us, including everyone having this discussion recently, is that we tend to forget about all the time it takes to just manage life. Just the things you do on a daily basis, so that you [01:07:00] are a relatively normal, healthy person. Food prep, probably being near the top of that list, just in terms of time required. Right? And so the idea of communal food prep should, I think, be thought of as a major aspect of co-housing in a way that goes far beyond building community ties. It would also free up hundreds of hours a year for each person who is currently responsible for making meals for only themselves and their families.
There's been a lot of focus today about the loneliness epidemic, but we're also in an epidemic of burnout. So what could you do with a few hundred additional hours in your life each year? I mean, maybe the chores and projects you never have time to get around to, or maybe nothing. Maybe just take some time to recover from the rest of our busy lives and. Pretty much the same goes for parents whose kids are home and in need of either [01:08:00] supervision or entertainment. Summer vacation is upon us. Wouldn't it be nice if those kids had a mixed-generation community around them to plug into and be watched over by. What could you do with those extra hours of quiet?
So that's gonna be it for today. As always, keep the comments coming in. I would love to hear your thoughts or questions about co-housing. You can leave a voicemail or send us a text at 202-999-3991 or simply email me to [email protected].
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So coming to you from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington, DC, my name is Jay, and this has been the Best of the Left podcast coming to you twice weekly, thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show from bestoftheleft.com.