We’re all coming to visit!
Are you like me?
When you travel do you love to visit other cohousing communities? I LOVE it!
Cohousers are a friendly bunch and most enjoy showing off their community. Takoma Village is an oft visited community. Not only are we located in a major metropolitan area — Washington, DC — we’re in the Nation’s capital! We are America’s “Hometown!” And we are for all intents … a capital city for the world! Everyone comes to DC.
Hence, we get a lot of visitors.
This has me wondering: is there etiquette for visiting a cohousing community?
One thing I know I dislike is people just dropping by and wandering around until they run into someone to give them a tour. I think we forget that these communities are our homes.
Here are Top 10 Guidelines I’m thinking about when visiting a cohousing community — both for visitors and host communities.
1. If you’re visiting from out of town and think you might like a tour … give the host community a few DAYS — not hours — to identify someone to give you a tour.
3. If you want to stay in the guest room … check well in advance to see how much time a community needs to arrange an overnight stay for you. As heavily used as our guest rooms are four weeks advance notice is minimum to schedule an overnight stay.
4. If you leave a message do leave your full name and contact info. It helps to be able to return a call.
5. Try to remember that each community has a life of its own. The day and hour that’s convenient for you to visit may find the community otherwise engaged: celebrating an important event, in the middle of a serious work day or memorializing someone’s passing.
6. And on the other side of the coin … one of the frustrating things I find about trying to make an appointment in advance is NEVER getting a call back or an answer to an email request. The phone number or email address on your website goes to that great black communication wastebasket. If you are unable to accommodate tours and overnight stays say so diplomatically: Sorry, we are unable to accommodate visitors at this time. Simple, direct and no on gets frustrated. (Especially me!)
7. Make visiting easier by having a team of people who give tours or arrange for guest room stays. This way the work of hosting someone doesn’t fall on just one or two people.
8. Remember how much you liked visiting cohousing communities when your community was getting started? Cohousing is more popular than ever … more and more people are yearning to visit and to learn firsthand what makes a community work well. Promote tours and visits as a regular outreach activity for your community. Scheduling tours on a regular basis will reduce the number of drop ins and the need for individual tours.
9. Build in flexibility. Sometimes folks cannot make a scheduled tour because they are only in town for a short time. With a team of people willing to offer visitors a “walk about” it’s easier to accommodate folks on a schedule.
10. Finally, giving tours to the public and hosting overnight guests can help your community create a list of interested future purchasers for resales. Wouldn’t you rather have someone buying into your community who has at least visited before buying? Use tours and visits to educate folks in advance about living in your cohousing neighborhood.
What do you think? How do you handle visits and tours? (BTW, here at Takoma Village, we have four HUGE formal tours a year — 30-40 people per tour. Plus always happy to accommodate people … with advance notice!)
What’s the etiquette for visiting YOUR community?
The biggest question people have at the beginning of their cohousing adventure is: how do I get started?
“It’s always best to start at the beginning,” so advises Glenda, the Good Witch, in The Wizard of Oz. Indeed, that is where we will start.
The following is one of many “Top 10 Lists” designed to help people in various stages of thinking about cohousing, forming, building or living in cohousing. Are just beginning to nose around cohousing? This list is for you! It contains many recommendations for free or low cost avenues you can pursue to inform your thinking and decision-making about living in cohousing. You can get your toes seriously soaked without huge monetary or time commitments!
Gotta Get Ready: Top 10 Things To Do in
Advance of Forming Your Cohousing Group
- Read the book “Creating Cohousing: Building Sustainable Communities” 3rd edition of the original book published by Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett. This is the “bible” of the movement and contains all the basics. Having everyone in the group read it will put everyone “on the same page” during discussions. The 3rd edition contains many American examples of cohousing as well as extensive writings on sustainability.
- “Developing Sustainable Communities for Today’s Housing Market” is a book and DVD produced by Mid Atlantic Cohousing. The top three developers of cohousing in the U.S. are interviewed in the book. It’s complete with budgets. Watch a trailer of the video.
- Check out The Cohousing Association of the United States (CohoUs) website. This national non-profit has many resources available at no charge. There are many highly experienced members of this association with much wisdom to share. It’s an invaluable tool for “networking” with other groups nationally. There are often bus tours offered by CohoUS. Free newsletter!
- Also check out The Mid Atlantic Cohousing website. This regional non-profit, comprised of 13 regional coho communities and two businesses, has a mission of informing and educating the public about cohousing. It also educates its members about the art of living in community through its website, local workshops, bus tour, etc. Network with local groups. Once you get a group — Join! The members are eager to help you build your cohousing dream!
- Join and participate in The Cohousing-L, an electronic mail list maintained by a volunteer. This list is available to anyone without charge. People in all different stages of cohousing communities — from living in a coho community to thinking about it — participate on the list via email. People ask questions about developing a coho community…and get back lots of answers from people w/ experience!
- Youtube contains an amazing number of videos uploaded to the site by communities throughout the world. Spend just one hour browsing Youtube videos under the keyword: cohousing. You will be delighted at the information you can glean about what it’s like to live in this kind of neighborhood. It will sharpen your vision of your community!
- In the Washington, DC area all events about cohousing are announced on the local Meetup. Almost 600 local folks subscribe. It’s easy to sign up. If anything is going on in cohousing you will know.
- Ask to attend the meetings and other events of established cohousing in the area. Cohousing folks are delighted to share what they have learned about creating and living in their community.
- Plan a field trip to a built community. It’s inspiring. It will bring your vision alive.
- Go on a cohousing bus tour! These fun outings are offered and posted at CohoUS, Mid Atlantic Cohousing , Meetup, the Cohousing-L email list, and by other groups organizing cohousing.
The “Top 10 Lists” form a kind of “yellow brick road” for pointing the way to or staying on the path towards the successful completion of your community. We even have lists for what to do once you’re living in your new home! The lists were originally compiled for The Cohousing Network, later updated by Cohousing Collaborative, LLC and now revised and updated for Mid Atlantic Cohousing. Look for more lists! Add suggestions! Compile your own lists and share them with all of us! All rights reserved 1998-present but you may use them with attribution to Mid Atlantic Cohousing.
Turn your radio on!
Ok. It’s not a for REAL radio network … but the frequency with which cohousers are being interviewed on the radio makes it seem so!
Check out these two interviews.
Last January, Rick Gravock, Minnesota’s Monterey Cohousing, was interviewed by AM950 radio.
Rick said he was interviewed about cohousing in general and Monterey Cohousing in particular. “It was an enjoyable time,” said Rick.
“Going Home With Tony” show features cohousing!
More recently in early June, Blog Talk Radio Show host, Tony Scimeca interviewed Jerry McIntire, Stone’s Throw Eco Village and Alice Alexander, Executive Director CohoUS and Durham Central Park Cohousing. Jerry is well known to those who follow The Cohousing-L email list serv. You can listen to their radio interview right now!
Stay tuned for more radio interviews — we’ll post them as they become available. Send us news of your radio fame! Email a link to your radio segment to: [email protected] Include info on the folks being interviewed along with links to websites.