Raising Children in a Multi-Generational Ecovillage

| 3/7/2013 10:23:00 AM

When I was a child, I would often spend time with a group of Italian neighbors in their 80s. We would stroll around the neighborhood together, pick grapes and visit their friends. They were warm, active and social women who were enjoying life, setting a great example of how rich the golden years can be. Aside from grandparents however, my two young children have very limited contact with older adults.

My family will soon be moving to Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage (BCE), a 36-unit community on 42 shared acres in mid-coast Maine. The homes feature a passive solar design, and a common house with shared space will be constructed soon.

little girl and senior carving pumpkins
Photo Courtesy Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage

“I think we have an amazing mix, from people in their 20s who are just having babies to people in their 70s,” says Judith Grace, a member of BCE and a grandmother of three. “We couldn’t have planned it better.”

I’m really excited for my children to live in a multi-generational community and form relationships with people of a variety of ages, as it can only enrich their lives. When speaking with other parents of young children living at BCE, they were attracted to the community partially for this reason.

“Many kids know their parents, perhaps their grandparents and 50 or 100 other kids their age,” says Dan Capwell, a member of BCE and a new father. “Kids from cohousing know many older adults, middle-aged people and older kids. It gives them a more well-rounded life experience to draw from.”

Ron Elicit
3/15/2013 9:16:18 PM

In the Italian hilltowns I've visited, parents let the kids run free, knowing that the entire village will watch over them. Back in the US, so many people live segregated lives, and don't even know their neighbors. As a result, young parents are overwhelmed and older folks don't have enough social contact. This ecovillage in Maine is a great reminder that we don't have to live that way. Thanks for the article!