“Sociocracy,” a governance and decision-making method, means “governance by peers or colleagues.” It is essentially a system for organizing work and making decisions to guide that work, and it is increasingly popular in ecovillages, cohousing communities, and other kinds of intentional communities worldwide. It is not a modification of consensus. Sociocracy is based on the values of transparency, equivalency, and effectiveness. When a community uses it (and uses it correctly), the group tends to get more done and enjoy more high-energy, effective meetings. In the US it is sometimes called “Dynamic Governance.”
1. The seven parts of Sociocracy. Gerard Endenburg, a Dutch engineer, inventor, and cybernetics expert, designed Sociocracy in the 1970s to help his company, Endenburg Elektrotechniek, function more harmoniously. It was so effective that other businesses and nonprofit organizations in The Netherlands began using it too, and later it spread to organizations in Europe and internationally.
Sociocracy has many parts, but in my opinion, the following seven parts are the minimum needed to provide checks and balances against any potential abuses of power. These seven parts work together synergistically, each mutually benefitting the others: (1) “double-linked” circles, (2) clear aims (ongoing objectives) for each circle, (3) feedback loops built into every proposal — and four meeting processes — (4) consent decision-making, (5) proposal-forming, (6) selecting people for roles (elections,) and (7) role- improvement feedback.
(1) Double-linked circles. Semi-autonomous, self-organized “circles” (like committees, teams), organize all work tasks, including administrative tasks and physical labor tasks. Each circle provides a specific, concrete function for the community; for example, through a Membership Circle, Finance Circle, Land Use Circle, and so on. Most circles are relatively small, with perhaps four to eight members.
A central circle like a steering committee (called a “General Circle”) creates all the other circles determining their areas of responsibility, aims, and budgets. The General Circle also provides longer-term planning for the whole community — coordinating and overseeing the work of the other, more specifically focused circles.
“Double links” are two people who are each members of two different circles, and who convey information between the two circles. This ensures a direct, two-way flow of information circles, and helps all the various work areas of the community function smoothly and synergistically in relation with one another.
(2) Domain and aims. Aims (ongoing objectives) are what the circle produces and provides for the community. The aims of a Finance Circle, for example, with the domain of financial management for the community, would be to provide financial services, including, the work of paying the community’s taxes, utility bills, insurance premiums, and so on, and invoicing and collecting dues and fees from members. The aims of a community’s Promotions Circle, with the domain of community promotions and advertising, would be to provide the services of promotions and advertising in order to inform and inspire potential visitors, neighbors, and the general public about its mission and activities, and its specific work could be creating and managing the community’s website, blog, online newsletter, brochures, tours for visitors, and other tasks. Again, Sociocracy is about organizing work, and for intentional communities, this means providing a clear, effective system for doing this — and with clear domains and aims, everyone knows what each circle is doing and why they’re doing it.
Aims are not goals, which have a beginning and end. Rather, aims are ongoing and continuous. Aims are crucial because when circle members make proposals, object to proposals, and resolve objections to proposals they do so based on how the proposal may or may not support the specific aims of their circle.
(3) Feedback Loops. Engineers and inventors use the three steps of feedback loops to create and test their ideas. First they create a design or plan. Next they implement their design by creating a prototype in order to try out the design. And lastly they measure and evaluate the prototype in order to learn how it works in real-life circumstances. Then they may revise their design, based on what they learned in their measurements and evaluation, and create a new prototype.
Feedback loops are built into Sociocracy too, because the wording of every proposal includes criteria for how it will later be measured and evaluated for effectiveness after it is implemented, and dates of upcoming meetings in which these evaluations will occur. Criteria for measuring proposals can include “how much” and “how many” questions. Criteria for evaluation are more subjective, and might include questions such as “Do we like it?” “Is it working well?” “What do community members say about it?” and so on.
After each evaluation circle members can keep the implemented proposal as it is or change it as needed or even dismantle it (if possible). So when circle members are creating or considering a proposal, they know that, depending on the proposal, they may later be able to keep it, change it, or throw it out. Thus no proposal or decision has to be perfect, but only “good enough for now” and “safe enough to try.” This flexibility reduces the fear of making a mistake or of failing to create a “perfect” proposal where they’ve thought of everything. Because using feedback loops takes the pressure off circle members to “get it right,” meetings tend to be much more relaxed than when using consensus, since in consensus it is difficult to change a decision once it’s finally been decided.
(4) Consent decision-making. This meeting process includes checking in with each person in the circle, called a “round.” After a round to answer clarifying questions and a round hear quick reactions, there’s a round to hear whether each circle member consent to the proposal or objects to it. Objections indicate the proposal needs more work. Circle members resolve objections by modifying the proposal and then doing another consent round. These two steps — consent rounds and modifying any objections — are alternated until there are no more objections — which means the circle has consented to the latest modification of the proposal.
When consent decision-making is practiced correctly, no member of a circle can stop their circle from approving a proposal because the proposal violates the person’s own personal values or lifestyle choices. Objections to proposals are a necessary and desirable part of consent decision-making and are not blocks or vetoes. As noted above, the checks and balances provided by the seven parts of Sociocracy — including that when a circle has clear aims no one can object for personal reasons, which helps prevent power abuses in decision-making. Thus in Sociocracy there is no “personal blocking” or implied or actual “threats to block.” Each of Sociocracy’s other three meeting processes are based on the principles of consent decision- making.
(5) In proposal-forming, circle members draft one or more proposals about an issue that relates to the circle’s area of responsibility and aims.
(6) In selecting people for roles (elections), circle members choose people for specific roles in their circle, and their choices are based on the specific responsibilities and qualifications for each role rather than on whether or not they like the person or other personal reasons.
(7) In role-improvement feedback, circle members give feedback — what’s working well, what may need improvement _ to other circle members relative to how they are fulfilling the specific responsibilities of the role.
2. Sociocracy’s Three Values:
- Equivalence — circle members have an equivalent voice in decisions in their circle.
- Transparency — policy decisions are known to everyone through the double-links.
- Effectiveness — when practiced properly, Sociocracy tends to take less time and help people accomplish their goals more easily than with other methods.
3. How Sociocracy is best learned and implemented successfully. Sociocracy tends to not to work well in a community or member-led group when (1) people understand it only partially, (2) some members understand it and others don’t, or (3) the group uses some but not all of its seven parts. Or — the worst — if the community misunderstands Sociocracy by viewing it through the lens of consensus, and inadvertently creates a Sociocracy-consensus hybrid. This doesn’t work as well as either Sociocracy or consensus and tends to generate confusion and frustration.
The positive responses to using Sociocracy in communities and member-led groups seem to occur only under the following circumstances:
(1) The group understands the need for ongoing training or periodic reviews, such as with an ongoing Sociocracy study group and/or an in-house coach. Or they have in-person or online consultations with a Sociocracy trainer. They use an outside Sociocracy facilitator when they can.
(2) The group makes sure all members learn Sociocracy — especially new incoming people. The community doesn’t assume new folks will just “pick it up” by attending meetings; rather, training in Sociocracy is provided for new members before they have full decision rights in meetings Without training people tend to misinterpret Sociocracy through the lens of whatever decision-making method they are most familiar with, often consensus.
(3) Group members who do not or will not learn Sociocracy for whatever reason nevertheless agree to support the group in using it, perhaps by signing a written agreement saying this and saying they promise to learn Sociocracy as soon as they can. And they agree not to interrupt or undermine the facilitator’s work of leading circle members through Sociocracy’s various meeting processes.
(4) Since the seven main parts of Sociocracy work together synergistically to provide efficient governance and effective meetings, the group uses all seven parts.
Article by Victoria Thatcher, one of the founders of a forming senior cohousing community in the Boston area: http://belmont.wickedlocal.com/news/20161024/to-age-successfully-it-takes-village
To age successfully, it takes a village
Nearly 80 million baby boomers are now turning 65 at a rate of 10,000 per day.
Where will they live as they age and need help? Research confirms that most people want to "age in place." But the key question is: What is the right place?
According to gerontologist Janice Blanchard, author of "Aging in Community," "Millions of older Americans struggle physically, financially, and emotionally to stay in homes and communities that are not designed to accommodate their changing needs. Without meaningful social connection and support, many suffer the same three plagues that afflict residents in nursing homes—loneliness, boredom, and helplessness."
Acting on the belief that it takes a village to age successfully, a handful of residents from Belmont, Arlington and Cambridge are seeking to address the challenges of aging in place in a disconnected world. They are the Middlesex Senior Cohousing Initiative, and they are working to create the first senior cohousing neighborhood in New England.
The group is holding a free event titled "Senior Cohousing: Taking Charge of the Rest of Your Life" from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Watertown Public Library. Registration is not required but appreciated. Go to Eventbrite online and type in "senior cohousing," or email Middlesex.email@example.com.
Senior cohousing is an innovative model that started in Denmark in the 1980s and is just now emerging in the United States. It consists of privately-owned homes clustered around shared green space and a common house with many shared amenities. It is unique in that residents participate in designing and running their neighborhood. Structured financially like a condo association, it focuses on creating an old-fashioned neighborhood where people know and care about and help each other.
The initiative's leaders are in the process of growing their group in order to take the next steps of finding land, consulting with an architect, identifying a project manager and beginning the participatory design process. Since starting last April, their mailing list has grown to 300 people. They are being mentored by leaders of the national senior cohousing movement, including California architect Charles Durrett, author of "The Senior Cohousing Handbook," who along with his wife Katie McCamant, brought cohousing from Denmark to the United States in the 1980s and coined the term "cohousing."
The group is currently running a 10-week workshop called "Aging Successfully in Place and In Community." The purpose of the workshop, designed by Charles Durrett and based on one that has been widely offered in Denmark for 20 years, is to make vivid the opportunities, challenges, and difficulties of aging in place and the advantages that aging in community offers.
"Many seniors get their financial ducks lined up...but to look clearly at one's emotional well-being for the future is another story," said Charles Durrett. "Seniors who take the time to take stock of their situation and develop a more self-deterministic scenario are likely to have a more successful and happy elderhood. Stepping back and taking a good look inward and then ahead into the future is exactly what happens in this workshop."
The 26 workshop participants come from many towns in the area, including Arlington, Belmont, Brookline, Cambridge, Concord, Newton, Watertown and Winchester. Each session focuses on a topic:
—Aging in Place and Aging in Community: Assessing the implications of our current quality of life and beginning to define what we want; getting out of denial and into self-determination.
—Group Process: Learning how to work together, learning new communication and decision-making skills.
—The Realities of Getting Older: Physical, mental, and psychological realities.
—Co-Care and Outside Care: Understanding our choices in receiving, sharing, and giving care; setting guidelines for caring in community; how to accommodate nurses, other caregivers, and family.
—Co-Healing: The role of others in keep us healthy and happy. The Economics of Getting Older: The costs of various living arrangements for seniors.
—Philosophy, Spirituality and Mortality: Continuing to grow and learn; exploring issues of the spirit and soul. Saging: What we have to offer the world; growing into elderhood. Embracing Risk: The risk of staying where you are; moving back to a small town; moving in with the daughter; moving into cohousing.
—Case Studies: Visiting a cohousing community.
Victoria Thatcher has lived in Belmont for 18 years and is a retired writer and publications editor. She, her husband, Mayhew Seavey, and a few friends are spearheading this initiative.
Aging is inevitable. How we live into it is our choice.
Read about a few of the ways cohousing helps us have more enjoyment, connection, intellectual stimulation, and good health as we age.
Why would anyone join a cohousing group?
By Rob Sandelin
Reprinted with permission from the author
My perspective comes from living in cohousing for over 15 years now, visiting and talking with bunches of other cohousers in gatherings and conferences, and visiting other communities. So here is my top ten list, from my perspective of living in cohousing:
1. Living in community offers security. You can rely on your neighbors to help you, even when you don't ask. This is huge for me, that my family is in a safe and supportive place. My grandmother died recently, my neighbors knew all about it,sent cards and sympathy and support to my family. HER neighbors didn't even know she was sick, most of them didn't even know her name. How many of them could she ask for help if she needed it?
2. Community offers social opportunities. I can have wonderful and meaningful interactions with people I like, who are my neighbors, just by sitting out on my porch. I really enjoy hanging out and talking with folks about everything, politics, the news, kids. Sharing our histories and ourselves grows a wonderful bond among us.
3. Supportive place for kids to grow up. Safe, lots of friends-both other kids and adults. Kids can play and I know any adult in the neighborhood will be there for them in case of need. Fun place to be an adult, lots of play opportunity with kids, and other adults.
4. Great place to collaborate with people who share similar interests. Small groups form revolving around shared common interests, beer making, sewing, gardening, music, etc. I don't have to "go" anywhere to enjoy a beer making club; my neighbors and I can do that. The common house is great for that.
5. A sense of togetherness and belonging. I am part of something that is really wonderful, it is a model for a better way to live, and we all together are doing it. I can't explain this in words very well but there is a strong feeling of happiness that comes from working with my neighbors on a variety of projects.
6. A great restaurant in the middle of my neighborhood, called the common house, where I can go have dinner and great conversation with friends when I want to.
7. Great place to learn new things. I always wanted to try making beer. Having a couple of neighbors share that interest got me home brewing. We learn and try new stuff all the time.
8. A great place to share ownership of things that I couldn't really afford myself, such as a workshop, play structure, tools, library etc.
9. Huge personal resources available. Want to know about bee keeping? I go ask Mel, and get all kinds of info. Having problems with my car? Mark knows lots about such things. Want to build a shed? Bob can give me advice, help me scrounge materials, hell, did half the work one Saturday. A neighborhood like mine is a collection of 26 lifetimes worth of experience in all manner of things. What a treasure trove!
10. Privacy. I get ALL the great benefits of cooperative living, and also get huge amounts of privacy, whenever I want just by going home and closing the door or going into the 25 acre woods that surround my house that everybody shares ownership of.
I would say the $ value of all those things, to me, would be in the million dollar range. My house cost me less than market value to build and is worth way more than I paid for it should I ever move to another community. Notice I said move to another community. It is inconceivable for me to ever move back to a "normal" neighborhood, where everyone is a stranger and I have to be afraid every time my kid goes out the door.
Rob Sandelin (1956 to 2017) was a community activist living in Sharingwood Cohousing. He was particularly active in the cohousing movement during the late 90s, providing facilitating training and working with a variety of forming and established cohousing communities. Since then, Rob largely turned his attention to environmental education. Rob was also a NICA (Northwest Intentional Community Association, a non-profit organization) board member and an active online communicator via Cohousing-L, an Email-based list about cohousing started in late 1992. Rob wrote the book Cohousing Resource Guide.
Chuck Durrett is an American architect and author, based in Nevada City, California. With his wife, Kathryn McCamant, he is credited with coining the term "cohousing" and introducing the cohousing model to North America. In recent years, he has become a major proponent of senior cohousing, communities specifically designed for seniors. This presentation examines the basic principles supporting the co-housing movement, and the importance and benefits of approaching architecture from an anthropological point of view.
This presentation took place at the "Communities by design: Development for people and the environment" conference at the University of Technology Sydney, on Thursday March 17 2016.
Do you wish you could move to a neighborhood of like-minded people? Would it be great if you liked and cared about your neighbors? I interviewed Irene from the Nubanusit Neighborhood and Farm from Peterborough, New Hampshire, about how cohousing and intentional communities actually work. This is a great example of off grid living.
Raleigh Cohousing is an intentional community. We are not intending to be self-sustaining or off the grid but a community more like an old fashioned neighborhood village.
We shouldn’t be measuring “Cost per square foot” but rather “Happiness per
So try out this Home Happiness Calculator to see how your home and
neighborhood contribute to your happiness:
When interacting with a group of people, understanding styles and principles of communication is invaluable. Recently some of us in Raleigh Cohousing went to a Non-Violent Communications workshop. Don't like the name of this because it has the word Violent in it. Another name suggested for the technique is Compassionate Communication. I do like that better. It is a good model for recognizing your own thoughts and feelings when something pings you and instead of a knee jerk reaction, going inside and consciously deciding on a response, or not. Very similar to a 4 step conflict resolution technique I teach engaged couples.
Today I ran across a term "Empathy in Action" in the newsletter of a forming cohousing group so I thought I would check it out. The cohousing group has what they call an Action/Friday Forum (a non-business biweekly meeting). Hmmmm. A getting to know each other better, I guess. They use Empathy in Action as a tool.
So, I found this cartoon by Brene Brown whom I hold in great esteem that explains it. Please watch it. It is short and to the point. It is part of a series called NewConversations.net and a chapter in The Seven Challenges Workbook.
This article was on governing.com and dated November 2012:
Several years ago, Steve Pretl of Potomac, Md., saw that his next-door neighbor was outside, so he walked over to say hi. They chatted for a few minutes before the neighbor stopped Pretl and said, “You know I moved out three months ago, right?” He had only stopped by pay a visit. Pretl had had no idea. He took it as a wake-up call. Perhaps it was time to get to know his neighbors.
Today, Pretl is in his 12th year of living in a type of tight-knit residential development known as cohousing, and it’s a good bet that his neighbors won’t move -- or experience some other life-altering events -- without his knowing about it. “It’s a blend of community and privacy,” says Pretl, 73. “You can have all the privacy you want. But if you do it too long, people will ask, ‘Why don’t we see you around?’”
Pretl and the other 80 or so residents of Takoma Village Cohousing in Washington, D.C., treat one another like extended relatives. They range in age from 12 months to 85 years. Every week they cook and eat dinner together. Communal facilities -- living spaces, a children’s play area, a tool workshop -- encourage interactivity. There’s no professional management company in charge: The residents themselves handle basic repairs, cleaning and landscaping. When somebody’s ill, there’s an understanding that the neighbors will help out.
Once a relative novelty, cohousing developments continue to increase in popularity -- and they could become a key part of the way developers and cities accommodate an aging population. Unlike their parents’ or their grandparents’ generation, baby boomers say they don’t want to decamp to Florida or Arizona upon retirement. They want to stay in the communities where they’ve spent their adult lives. For many experts on housing and senior issues, cohousing looks like an increasingly attractive solution.
The idea of cohousing originated in Denmark in the 1970s; American developers imported the model in the early 1990s. Today, there are about 110 cohousing developments throughout the country, says Joani Blank, a former board member of the Cohousing Association of the United States, which acts as a clearinghouse of information about the developments.
Blank first moved into a cohousing residence in 1992, and she has the enthusiasm of an early adopter. The idea behind cohousing, she says, is very simple. It’s about creating “intentional neighborhoods” in which residents interact with their neighbors, as an alternative to the relative anonymity of high-rise apartment complexes or sprawling exurban McMansions. “Our intention is to be close to our neighbors, and be known by our neighbors, and know them,” Blank says. “And that’s it.”
The cohousing development where Blank lives, in Oakland, Calif., has wide sidewalks to encourage residents to stop and congregate. Cars don’t park in between homes, because doing so would create a barrier. A staple of cohousing is lots of meetings and lots of committees, since residents play such an active role in decisions large and small. In Blank’s community, residents have windows over the kitchen sink, and most tend to keep the curtains open. “In cohousing,” she says, “we want to maximize the openness.”
Inevitably, Blank says, people learning about cohousing for the first time are tempted to view it as co-op-meets-commune, a dream of hippie counterculture. (The fact that many cohousing residents are baby boomers who came of age in the 1960s only fuels those parallels.) But Blank says that’s just a caricature. “We all have completely functional, self-contained units. I could be in any condo in the country.”
Historically, cohousing developments have included residents of all ages, but now there’s a growing interest in developments exclusively for aging residents, says Kathryn McCamant, president of the developer CoHousing Partners and one of the earliest pioneers of the cohousing movement in the U.S. “Boomers are looking for an alternative that hasn’t been there before,” McCamant says. “They don’t want to live in communities of thousands of old people. They want to stay in charge.”
Those leading the shift will likely be seniors who’ve already lived in multigenerational cohousing developments, which tend to focus on families, and who may be searching for something else. “It’s not that the kids are annoying. Everybody loves them,” says Jim Leach, CoHousing Partners’ chairman and a resident of Silver Sage Village, a senior cohousing development in Boulder, Colo. “But when you have an intergenerational community with a lot of young families, the kids come first. Dinners are like going to McDonald’s Playland. Ours are like going to a nice restaurant.”
Advocates of senior cohousing say it’s an attractive option for many reasons. Developments in urban areas would allow aging people to be less reliant on cars. The units are much easier to maintain than large single-family homes. And cohousing allows them to remain socially active and engaged with the community. Meanwhile, there’s the very practical benefit of knowing that there are people close by in case of a medical emergency. While cohousing isn’t a solution for those suffering from serious medical conditions, it can be a useful solution for people who merely need the occasional helping hand.
“When people are connected, they start to work as an extended family,” Leach says. “They tend to take care of each other, even though there’s no obligation.”
When a resident of Blank’s development in Oakland was diagnosed with cancer, neighbors provided round-the-clock help so that her husband could continue going to work. Advocates say that with a minimal amount of care -- in some cases, just the care that’s provided by thoughtful neighbors -- seniors can remain at home and relatively independent much later in life than they may otherwise have been able to. “[Seniors] want to feel like they control their own destiny,” Leach says. “A high percentage of them don’t want to be stuck somewhere where people are taking care of them, and they don’t have much of a relationship with them.”
Groups like AARP and the American Planning Association have paid close attention to cohousing, since both styles -- seniors-only and multigenerational -- may be an attractive option to aging baby boomers. The model will no doubt remain a niche option. But the boomer demographic is so large that it’s worth paying attention to, says Rodney Harrell, senior strategic policy adviser with AARP’s Public Policy Institute. “You’ve got enough numbers that there are still people out there to fill every niche and category,” he says.
Cohousing isn’t for everybody. Some critics say more work must be done to encourage affordable housing units within the developments. Otherwise, they say, cohousing will remain a boutique option for the already well-to-do. As one resident of Takoma Village Cohousing notes, while her neighbors often tout the racial and religious diversity within their community, the economic makeup of the development is homogeneous: solidly and entirely middle class. “We don’t just want condos for rich people,” Harrell says. “We want affordable units mixed in. But it’s a challenge, especially [because] when it’s such a niche option, prices tend to go up.
Advocates have also called on city governments to help encourage cohousing by creating zoning policies that foster the type of dense development that includes cohousing. “It’s a matter of recognizing the new constituency and the new population and tailoring government programs to meet those unique needs,” says former U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros, who has written about housing options for aging Americans.
In some places, local officials have worked to help support cohousing developments. Dene Peterson, one of the founders of ElderSpirit Community at Trailview, located in southwest Virginia, says the development leveraged government money in order to secure private loans before opening in 2006. The development became a reality thanks largely to a combination of loans from the Virginia Housing Development Authority and a grant distributed by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Of the senior development’s 29 units, 16 are designated as low-income rentals. In fact, ElderSpirit calls itself “the first mixed-income, mixed-ownership elder cohousing community in the United States.”
Peterson, who says she wasn’t interested in a nursing home, couldn’t imagine spending her final years anywhere else. “I expect to die at home,” she says. “And one reason I built this was for a good death for myself.”
Earlier this year Katie was in Las Vegas Nevada helping Kim Henry launch SNV Cohousing, Nevada's first cohousing community. The opportunity to be interviewed by NPR about cohousing arose and they were thrilled to spread the word. Joining them by phone was Becky Laskody who lives in Arcadia, the first cohousing community in NC formed in the mid 1990s. It is in Carrboro and Raleigh Cohousing people toured it back last March.
We thought you might like to hear this radio interview.
Here is the link: http://knpr.org/knpr/2016-04/cohousing-way-nevada
The Friday night free to the public presentation at the Unitarian church drew 71 people and lots of questions. Some of those there joined us Sunday the 31st at the debriefing session and potluck.
There were 28 attendees to this very important GIB weekend workshop presented by the experts, Katie McCamant and Chuck Durrett. Essentially you organize people into memberships and concentrate on development until you find the land. Once land is procured, the site design workshops begin to bring into physical reality the values and features the group desires. The material was on point, very detailed, and at some points overwhelming. Mark said to me: "To go forward in building this cohousing community without Katie and Chuck on board and guiding us would be like trying to win the Super Bowl without a coach!" In their business Cohousing Solutions, Katie has taken on the role of development consultant for forming cohousing communities and Chuck joins the project as chief architect/site designer when land is found and conducts a series of workshops as we move forward into the physical construction then move-in!
Dave spoke to many other cohousers when at the National CoHo Conference in May. Those who had not had expert guidance from those who have done this many times before told Dave that they went down many expensive blind alleys in their route to building their cohousing and had to turn around and start again.
Neighborhood design that promotes Aging in Place and enjoying every minute of it.
From the newsletter of McCamant and Durrett:
Earlier this year, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released alarming data - the morbidity rate of women in the U.S. is increasing. The data is parallel with an increase in suicides and drug overdoses.
As women get older, their children leave the home and they retire, they are at a risk of isolation and depression - believing they have nothing to do and no one to see. Often is the case, especially in small towns, rural homesteads, or suburbs, that conveniences like coffee shops and grocery stores are actually not convenient anymore.
For the full article published by the Washington Post, please click on this link.
What can we do about this? Senior cohousing groups are popping up across the U.S. - many led by women who are determined to have more fun the next 50 years than in the last 50 years. Senior cohousing communities are the perfect anecdote to American atomization and the perfect amount of independence and community - living alone in a neighborhood of people who care and listen. Senior cohousing communities are designed by the future residents, who value community engagement rather than growing more sedentary.
To learn more about how you can start a senior cohousing community in your area, attend the Study Group 1: Training the Trainers webinar series on Wednesdays Oct 12 - Dec 14. For more information, visit our website.
In Raleigh, Raleigh Cohousing is addressing these issues and providing a community for all people interested in adult cohousing we can live in for the rest of our lives.
The passion and purpose we share in creating the first cohousing community in Raleigh is beneficial to our health!!
A study of 9,050 people by researchers at Britain's University College of London, Princeton University, and Stony Brook University has determined that a sense of purpose and meaning in the lives of older individuals can significantly reduce the risk of earlier mortality. The researchers called this greater sense of purpose "evaluative well-being."
The study followed subjects that averaged 65 years old at the start for 8 ½ years. During that period 9% of those with the highest levels of well-being died. Among those with the lowest levels of well-being, 29% passed away during the same period--a 30% lower incidence of earlier mortality.
The study was lead by Professor Andrew Steptoe, director of the UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, who explains, "These analyses show that the meaningfulness and sense of purpose that older people have in their lives are also related to survival." The mechanisms for this effect are still largely unknown. "There are several biological mechanisms that may link well-being to improved health, such as through hormonal changes or reduced blood pressure," he says.
Our core group of cohousers have gravitated toward a "suburban" type of community. We prefer all one level homes and like the idea of stepping out the door onto the earth as opposed to an urban hi-rise kind of housing. Besides, downtown Raleigh offers little in the way of affordable property for sale.
The other night the property search team met with a developer to discuss our vision of having 25 to 30 homes which may be attached or detached, in close proximity clustered around a large common house on level land. It would be like building a small subdivision in which the homes are closer together with front porches facing the center of the group of homes with pedestrian walkways. The road would be located around the periphery of the group of homes with parking behind each home. There would be open green space for walking trails and gardens.
There are zoning restrictions and density restrictions and many other factors including cost that have to be taken into consideration. Wake County has never been the site of a cohousing community so we are blazing the trail. We need at least 10 acres of land.
Anyone know of any land that might be a possibility? If so, contact Kayelily at firstname.lastname@example.org!
We completed Study Group 1 (Thriving in Aging) in May. Next step is Study Group 2 which is the Getting It Built Weekend workshop which will be July 23 and 24. We are bringing in the experts--Chuck Durrett and Katie McCamant, the architects who have built over 50 cohousing communities and who brought the concept to America from Denmark in the 1990s. There are now over 160 cohousing communities in the US and Canada and more than 100 in progress.
On Friday night July 22 at 7:00 PM Chuck Durrett and Katie McCamant will be presenting a program for the public on cohousing--what it is, why it is such a smart way to live, and share their 25 years of experience building and living in cohousing.
The location is not yet set but stay tuned!
Article from Huffington Post March 25, 2016