Living Large in a Small Home, Ecovillage-Style


| 9/17/2013 11:02:00 AM


Tags: small homes, cohousing, ecovillage, Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage, Sarah Lozanova,

As the American economy recovers, the average new home size has reached an all-time high of 2,300 square feet. This is part of a cultural shift where many Americans are shying away from children sharing bedrooms, and bathrooms are becoming more plentiful and sophisticated. Homes have more than doubled in size since the 1950s, meanwhile vegetable gardens and close relationships with neighbors have declined.

I’ve noticed friends and family raise an eyebrow when I announce that my family of four (with a boy and a girl) is purchasing a two-bedroom, 900-square-foot home next month in Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage (BC&E)—a multi-generational community in Midcoast Maine, located just 2½ miles from the center of town and the Penobscot Bay. We are drawn in large part to the simplicity of a small home, shared resources and social activities with the other 35 households.

Belfast Cohousing and Ecovillage kids
Sarah Lozanova's kids play with a toy borrowed from Nessa Dertnig, a member of BC&E and a mother of two. Photo By Jeffrey Mabee.

Cohousing is a collaborative neighborhood where residents actively participate in the design and operation. BC&E will soon be a 36-unit community with private kitchens and bathrooms on 42 acres. More than half of the homes are complete and inhabited, some are still under construction, and just three remain unsold. We are also breaking ground on an approximately 4,000-square-foot common house with a shared dining room, commercial kitchen, laundry room, guest bedroom, playroom, offices and root cellar.

“The idea is that everyone’s home is just small enough that they will make use of the common house,” says BC&E cofounder Sanna McKim. “If the homes were too large, nobody would make use of our wonderful shared spaces.”

By design, cohousing helps encourage both modest homes and a high standard of living, while dedicating fewer resources and time for each household to maintain them. Social gatherings and impromptu interactions reduce the need to drive and make carpooling simple. The common house will help offset having a smaller home by providing a setting for activities such as entertaining large groups, teaching a yoga class, hosting overnight guests, and storing canned foods.

boiester
3/26/2014 5:18:42 PM

Hope that BC&E is all you wish Sarah. Cohousing is really wonderful; we're moving to a warmer climate from ME though!


sarahlozanova
11/4/2013 5:17:11 AM

For anyone interested in visiting the community, there is a Hoop House Building & Vineyard Planning event on November 10. http://mainecohousing.org/events/index.html


dmadam
10/13/2013 4:44:44 AM

Nice idea. You need to repair the link to their website by putting a dot after the www .





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