Sunday, May 21, 2017

From an Adversarial, Competitive Culture toward a Collaborative, Cooperative One

In Nashville, almost 400 people from around the country came together in May 2017, for one reason only: to talk about Cohousing. Participants at the Cohousing Association of the United States’ National Conference discussed topics like creating better connections between people, highlighting diversity, inclusivity and sustainability, communicating compassionately, and developing effective ways to handle conflict, a normal human dynamic between individuals, families, and nations. 

Is Cohousing a commune, a religious cult, a left-leaning political group? Or, a bunch of crazy, aging hippies? 

Nope. Cohousing is a movement about people who are interested in finding new ways to live together and share common resources. Cohousing includes working together while planning, developing and forming a community of people who do not share income but share some living spaces while each family also owns separate and private places. 

Nashville boasts one current Cohousing Community, Germantown Commons, and another community is being formed. Germantown Commons is the first of its kind in Tennessee, but many cities and rural areas around the country include Cohousing communities. Each group has some similar characteristics along with differences about how the groups choose to live together, and we often share some common values. 

Values like supporting each other throughout the life cycle. Germantown Commons is a multigenerational, intentional community where members share enjoyment together, community work, and a belief that our world can be a better place. Instead of living in separate houses where we owned lawn mowers, sprinklers, yards, and gardens, we share those and other items, like a Common House for activities and shared meals at times. 

In Cohousing we make decisions by consensus which may seem tedious to some but an adventure for others, where all voices get heard and hopefully understood. 

We embrace values like empathy and compassion for each other, along with composting. When our youngest needs child care, we pitch in. When our elderly experience medical problems, we help them out. When kids need a tutor, we have some among us. 

Before you get disgusted and stop reading this description of supposed paradise, note that while we aspire to embody these values and qualities, we sometimes fall short because we are human beings, with human needs and feelings, which sometimes bump up against those of others. 

Germantown Commons spent many years in its development stage and we are still young in the process of living together, almost two years for some. We run into the same sorts of issues and concerns that any community or family does, but we hope that by joining together and committing to each other, we can help all of us grow and learn. 

We also hope to change from a culture that is adversarial, hierarchical and competitive to one that is more collaborative and cooperative one day and one person at a time. Visit us at, or

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