Cohousing Provides Perfect Balance of Privacy and Community: Tracy Sorrill

Kawartha Commons explores residential opportunities

From breaking bread together to sharing the yard work, co-housing has a number of benefits for both community and those who participate, says Tracy Sorrill.

Cohousing creates a space where like-minded people reside together and share resources with the ultimate goal of living the best lives possible.

For supporters of co-housing, the opportunity is enticing as it’s more enjoyable than living alone and makes sense both environmentally and economically, Tracy, a member of the Kawartha Commons membership circle, tells Electric City Magazine.

“Cohousing provides personal privacy combined with the benefits of living in a community where people know and interact with their neighbours,” Tracy says.

20190126_192237“It’s about living in a way that’s responsive to a world that has changed dramatically in the last 50 years.”

Kawartha Commons is hosting an event March 6 from 7 to 9 p.m. for people interested in learning more about the cohousing experience and bringing a “new old-fashioned neighbourhood” to Peterborough. The event is at the Peterborough Lions Club Community Centre at 347 Burnham St.

The “new old-fashioned neighbourhood” involves sharing resources, tools and living spaces. Here’s an example.

For instance, 30 to 40 people share a few cars, one van and maybe one truck. They share lawnmowers, snow blowers and the sometimes tedious tasks that are associated with those.

“Cohousing offers hope in our often dissociated society. Through co-housing, we can build a better place to live, a place where we know our neighbours, a place where we can enjoy a rich sense of community and contribute to a more sustainable world.”

Cohousing residents share space in the large common house in rooms such as a media centre, crafts room, quiet space, guest suites, library, large kitchen and dining area for eating and socializing.

“They share meals, laughs and stories that make us human,” Tracy says.

Residents still own private homes but gain access to the communal shared space. Tracy says co-housing is a community by consensus.

Why now? The issue is a timely one. “Home life has changed, women are integral in the labour force, resource limitations and environmental concerns are on the rise and many people feel over-extended.

“Cohousing offers hope in our often dissociated society. Through cohousing, we can build a better place to live, a place where we know our neighbours, a place where we can enjoy a rich sense of community and contribute to a more sustainable world.”

020For Peterborough, an ideal scenario is a mutually-supportive yet independent-living custom-built neighbourhood, where people design, build and manage housing for themselves in a village-like setting, Tracy describes.

“It is the perfect balance of privacy and community. Social connection is nurtured and community cohesion strengthened.”

Locally, many people in Peterborough would love to live more lightly on the earth within a diverse, vibrant and caring community, she says, especially if this provides the opportunity to age where they are. “Cohousing does all this.”

To bring co-housing to Peterborough, Kawartha Commons is holding a membership drive and ongoing community information sessions. The groups strives to incorporate, find a site, hire a development consultant and, ultimately, get the build underway.

Originally developed in Denmark in the 1970s and multi-generational in nature, Danish co-housing also contributes greatly to older adults, as elders are able to age-in-place because the community is self-supportive.

Co-housing has been actively discussed for several years in Peterborough. Since December 2017, a core group of about 30 people have been meeting monthly, building friendships and continuing to plan and design a successful cohousing project.

Hear more from Kawartha Commons about its vision, goals and objectives by attending the meeting and/or visiting the website.

Graphic by Yvonne Hollandy

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