Think cohousing is right for you? Great!
We advise anyone considering starting their own cohousing community
to begin by educating themselves.
Successful cohousing groups have these on their bookshelves...
Creating Cohousing: Building Sustainable Communities
The cohousing “bible” with many new North American case studies, design principles and sustainable design practices. Written by cohousing experts Katie McCamant and Chuck Durrett, who first introduced the housing model to the U.S. with the book’s first edition in 1994. With over 160 cohousing communities now in existence in North America, the authors bring us a “must-have” book for cohousers, and anyone interested in creating more people-friendly neighborhoods.
In this highly-illustrated, 2nd edition Charles Durrett outlines a new approach to housing for active and thoughtful seniors with a focus on the communities built in North America. This book is for professionals and future residents interested in knowing why and how to create a senior cohousing community. *Spanish Language Version of Senior Cohousing HERE
Other recommended reading:
Beyond reading through the above books and this website, The Cohousing Association of the US
provides extensive information on existing communities and those in process. They have the most complete information about upcoming conferences and events as well as the best directory of cohousing communities in North America.
Visit built communities
Take a look around The Cohousing Association’s website to get acquainted with existing projects in your desired area, using the directory to identify openings in your state. This is the easiest way to jump right into cohousing. CohoUS also has a cohousing directory map, which acts as a useful tool for identifying the communities closest to you.
After identifying local communities, schedule a visit. The Cohousing Association calendar provides up-to-date info on excellent bus tours, with community contacts for arranging individual tours. Most built communities are happy to meet and talk with future cohousers.
Start a group
If you want to start a new community, your first step is to form a group of would-be cohousers. It can seem daunting at first when it’s just you and a few friends who’re interested, but most successful cohousing projects begin with just a few burning souls and motivation! Outreach ideas for finding more interested individuals or families in your community:
Contact friends and family
Utilize both physical and online community message boards
Contact your local chamber of commerce
Recruit and educate through local churches
Utilize library boards and events
Set up a table at your local food co-op
Advertise to parents at childcare centers
Contact local neighborhood associations
Search for or create Meetup Groups
Training workshops are an invaluable piece of getting your cohousing community up and rolling. These workshops have been 30 years in the making and will give your core group the background to make educated decisions on how best to proceed. Katie's workshops have been the “kick-off” for many existing communities (contact us for references). The workshops cover development strategies, timelines, financing options, raising the money, working together, outreach, recruitment and preparation to look for property. If you have a specific site in mind you can request a custom workshop, which will tailor budgets and timelines to the land in question. Call us at 530-478-1970 to discuss schedules and details for arranging a workshop in your area.
Whether you’re promoting a “Getting it Built” Workshop, sponsoring a film showing of Happy or starting a Creating CoHousing book club, be sure your advertising invites new cohousing members to the table. The outreach possibilities listed above apply to local and regional media sources. It’s important to remember local media will only cover you a few times, so be sure you utilize these sources to highlight critical moments like before a big event. Don’t underestimate the power of social media (Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/LinkedIn especially), even with outreach to older folks in your community (according to a recent study, 73% of the boomer generation uses Facebook). Creating your own pages through these platforms can be a useful recruitment tool, as is maintaining a solid website (which we can build for you).