Thursday, October 31, 2013

Cohousing creates family you can choose

Imagine walking into a room and meeting your new family. As an adult. While entering the room, various people reach out to you and you see a few familiar faces. You sense the welcome and the curiosity of these 20+ people sharing delicious, home-cooked food.
This has been my experience while exploring a brand new concept in Nashville, its first Cohousing community, Germantown Commons of Tennessee, LLC, which is located at the corner of 5th and Taylor. This idea appeals to me and my family partly because of the intentional nature of this Cohousing community.

There are only120 Cohousing developments in the United States. Research tells us that living in community with others often prompts a long and healthy life. Perhaps “it takes a village to raise a child” pertains to even us adults.

Cohousing neighborhoods are privately owned homes clustered around shared open space and common facilities. Cars are parked outside the cluster for green space, activities and safety for children. The core values of this community are environmental sustainability, smaller homes, green building attributes, and renewable energy systems. The Cohousing model offers social opportunities, shared responsibilities, privacy, and economic benefits to those involved.

As I think about the people involved in the Germantown Commons, I see ethically just and socially active individuals who seek comfort and enjoyment while sharing meals and/or various activities together. Each of those I have met have been interesting and intriguing people, and watching them learn to communicate and process all that comes with building a home together makes for dynamics similar to those within our families of origin.

The difference though is that these people self-select. They choose to be part of this pioneering group that hearkens back to the old family compound, the extended family that lived together, worked together and built a life for themselves. We don’t choose our families but we can choose to participate in another kind of family, one that we explore first, learn all about, and as we get to know the systems and people, we may decide to join them, or not.

Diana Sullivan, a real estate broker and founding member of the Germantown Commons, says it best: “Cohousing is different. Instead of a developer leading this, it is the residents who initiate, design and partially fund the development.”

The Germantown Commons seeks to make decisions by consensus and by working through any and all issues until solutions are discovered. If you are at all interested in this possibility, please review the website: ( You may just find yourself a new family! 

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