Old Berkeley pal Aditya passed along this glimpse into to cohousing — something I never knew existed. Amazing stuff, especially given how many of us struggle with the pressures of modern parenting in relative isolation, far away from extended family, or in neighborhoods that aren't conducive to distributing the childcare load. Cohousing looks to be a fantastic alternative.
It occurred to me that in the hierarchy of hacks this might be rather large, but one we have adopted and is well-tested is "It takes a village to raise a child".
Attributes that make Cohousing the ideal setting to raise a child include:
- intergenerational intentional community — in other words, we know and are friends with our neighbors; that is, everyone who lives here, wants to live here knowing all their neighbors — from kids to retirees; it is stimulating, diverse, educational, comfortable and absolutely natural
- safe, pedestrian and kid-friendly physical layout — we have a non-motorized vehicle path that runs between our homes and kids can roam with their parents' full confidence. A family who moved in last week wrote that within a day of moving in, their 6 year old already had 3 play dates on one day, 2 of which she arranged herself!
- shared Common House with a kid's room and game room, so your child can have a neutral place to play with other kids, and away from home at the same time
- a natural meeting place on snow days and vacations when a suburban parent would cringe at having to chauffer
- the physical layout and proximity of units and the Common House lend themselves to shared child-minding and adult interaction without needing to plan way in advance and drive somewhere — it's convenient, can happen at the spur of the moment and does (we do it over email [broadcast or unicast], phone or just step outside and see who might help out)
- optional common meals (5 nights a week at Great Oak) where the quality, variety and convenience is staggering (you can see the RSS feed of our upcoming meals at our website) — the meals are cooked and cleaned in rotation and the cost of ingredients is shared. Where else can you eat for the same price and quality as homemade, and only have to work for about 2 hours a month? and be home (if you don't get caught up talking to your friends/neighbors) within a minute?
So yes, the world is shrinking, and our communication options make virtual presence easier, but when your physical neighborhood is designed to help you interact, take care of the kids and share resources, you can be modern, hip, earth-friendly and relaxed!
Maybe this is too much of a lifestyle-hack to merit a blog-entry, but for any new parents, I feel it is imperative that they at least know such an option exists, especially before they plan on moving to a larger or different home.