An old fashioned neighborhood

    When I was growing up, I lived in a neighborhood with lots of kids, little traffic, and little fear. It was an old fashioned neighborhood, where everyone knew each other and did things together. Not so easy to find neighborhoods like that anymore. Seems like even if you try to be neighborly, either folks don't care, or are already entrenched with the other neighbors who have been there for ages and it's hard to break in.
    Enter Cohousing. Introduced to the US in the second half of the last century, it offers more privacy than a commune, and more shared resources and community than a traditional neighborhood or development. Cohousing communities are designed and managed by the people living there, and tend towards more environmentally friendly designs and use of resources. Designed around a common house, which has a large kitchen and dining areas for community meals, and other shared resources including mailboxes, laundry, storage, music room, kids room, guest rooms, etc. This means the houses/units can be smaller and more efficient.
    Another benefit to cohousing is that you know everybody before you move in. You've been working on the community, doing social activities together and everyone's kids have been developing friendships as well. An old fashioned neighborhood even before you move in.
    A friend of ours introduced my wife and I to a local cohousing community still in the development process. We attended an introductory meeting, although we had encountered cohousing many years before. We liked what we saw, and started the process of getting to know the people, as I view this as not so much buying a house but a community, so it was critical to know and like the people. It wasn't always easy to curb our enthusiasm for moving to a neighborhood where the kids would already have friends, they would be able to go over their friends houses on their own without us worrying about their safety, we would have friends next door, and a community where folks sit on their porch and wave to their neighbors as they walk by.
    After several months, we continued to find the members of Mosaic Commons to be friendly, like minded, and a safe, comfortable community. The next step was to put down 5% of the projected cost for the unit size we wanted, which we did. There have been ups and downs, as a parcel of land had already been purchased in Berlin, MA, but the approval process seemed to drag on. And just when it was looking it's darkest, we were thrilled, and somewhat stunned, when the ZBA approved our project with conditions last Wednesday evening. Still need to wait out the 20 day appeal period, and then it's on to finalizing design decisions and construction.
    With any luck, sometime in 2008, my kids will be living in an old fashioned neighborhood, created in a new way. This will require significant downsizing on all our parts, but I feel the need to simplify anyway, whether we move or not. So watch out, some of my 'junk' may be coming your way. :-)
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A place where Perley Mears sounds off on topics relevant to his work at Oracle.

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