Mother Earth Living

Cambridge Cohousing: A Family of Four Find Friends and Easy Living

Shared facilities and open space—instead of gated entrances and private yards—are attracting more and more Americans to the neighborly option of cohousing.
By Brian Lavendel
January/February 2001
Add to My MSN


Content Tools

Related Content

United We Serve Initiative Promotes Community Service

United We Serve is a new White House initiative calling the American people to do community service ...

Love Your Lawn

You can have a thick, green lawn without turning your backyard into a toxic waste dump by following ...

Green City Garden Girl: Spring Tree Sprouts a Closer Community

A spontaneous idea to erect a "spring tree" brings together a neighborhood and community.

Natural Dyeing: How to Make Natural Dyes from Plants and Other Materials

Naturally dyeing fabric and fiber with materials found in nature is a wonderful project for all ages...

Years ago, Sharon Hamer and her husband, Richard Curran, lived in a large apartment building in Boston. The couple encouraged their friends to move into neighboring apartments, resulting in an informal community of very friendly neighbors. Occasionally, several couples and families got together for meals or an outing, Hamer recalls fondly.

When the couple's children Jeff and Nora, now fourteen and eight years old entered the picture, they began looking for another home. They flirted with the idea of moving to the country, but they were reluctant to give up the pleasure of living close to friends. That's when an acquaintance told them of another option cohousing.

Today, Hamer and her family are residents of Cambridge Cohousing. A complex of forty-one condominiums in the middle of urban Cambridge, Massachusetts, it's part of a national trend of bringing neighbors close together. Hamer's family of four has joined nearly 100 other people in a community where her children have room to roam and more kids to play with than ever The family joins with fellow cohousers to break bread, tend a community garden, share tools, and generally help each other out.

Listening to Hamer describe a typical day at Cambridge Cohousing, one understands why many young families opt for the convenience and camaraderie of cohousing. Coming home from work after picking up her daughter at school, Hamer often hangs out with her own friends while Nora heads off to play with a girlfriend who lives on the other side of the common yard. "I can't see my daughter if she's down on the other end of the yard, but I feel secure in letting her go there and play,'' Hamer says. Twenty-eight children live at Cambridge Cohousing, so Nora always has a playmate.

On the three days of the week when a community dinner is served in the common house, Hamer and Curran are free to work or play until dinner, knowing there will be a wholesome, hot meal served at 6:30 sharp. Thirty or forty people usually gather for the dinner and a chance to chat with neighbors. 

Everyone who participates in the dinners takes a turn helping out. But, as the saying goes, many hands make small work. "If you eat, you help by cooking, cleaning, or shopping, but only three times every two months,'' Hamer points out. Other nights, "it's so wonderful to come home at three in the afternoon knowing that I can spend time with my children rather than running around trying to get dinner on the table.''

For more about the growing trend of cohousing, its European roots, and what cohousing can mean for your community, check out the January/February '01 issue of Natural Home.








Post a comment below.

 








Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.