Being single, some very small part of me shares the same fear as Bridget Jones: that one day I will die fat and alone and only be found three weeks later half-eaten by Alsatians. This fear touches on issues like loneliness, health, purpose and the need to leave a lasting legacy. As a rom-com, Bridget Jones suggests that the solution is to find a man and (possibly) build a family. But I believe the true solution is to build yourself a community and a found family. Living so that every day you see and interact with people who know you and will miss you when you are gone. Cohousing is one of the best ways to achieve this goal and assuage the fear of loneliness. That’s why I joined. Community building in cohousing is an intentional organic process where neighbours come together to make decisions, improve their living space and offer support. Cohousing is a form of social architecture, in which opportunities for communication and connection are purposely built into the design. “Nodes” (comfortable spaces where people can sit with each other) are slipped in along common walking paths. When you look at the common house, you will see a light shining out of the lounge space beckoning you inside to relax and chat. Imagine walking to pick up your mail. On the way, you talk to one person about a gardening project, another about the Canucks, play fetch with a dog and talk to a seven-year-old about her imaginary world. Before you know it, half an hour has passed and you’ve just reached your mailbox. Social interactions like these are important for our mental health and well-being. Getting to know and trust those you live with promotes a sense of security and safety that is fundamental to mental wellness. Maybe you are lucky enough to live in a community that already looks like this. But if you’re like me, this is missing from our lives. Cohousing is the solution. As a single person I find that the most difficult part of my day is when I cook alone, eat alone and clean up after my meal alone. In cohousing, shared meals are common: everyone pitches in to make food for the community. The common house gives us a place to all eat together. Of course, I have my own kitchen space. I can still enjoy a candlelit dinner for one if I want. For those of us with family far away, cohousing provides us with a community we can lean on in times of need. We can join each other to medical appointments, look after each other’s pets or plants while someone is away, assist with home maintenance, take comfort from each other in times of grief, look to each other for advice, and share items. Interacting with other cohousing members introduces me to all sorts of new experience I get to tap into. They can help me learn a new skill, sit with me to work out my financial woes, solve a computer issue or help repair split pants. Single parents in cohousing can lean on others in the community to help them through their journey, giving all of us who enjoy being around little ones the opportunity to be an “aunty”, “uncle” or “fun person” to lots of children. Not yet having my own son or daughter, I can choose to help out by organizing kid-focused events, taking an interest in their lives and stories, and celebrating their milestones. Or I can choose to stay out of it: if “kids” aren’t your thing you don’t need to participate in such activities. You can instead socialize in the adult lounge space in the common house. And yes, as with any community or family, I know there will be disagreements and the occasional heated word. But what makes many cohousing groups different is a commitment to settling disputes before they become a problem. We come together from a place of respect to develop a solution. Ultimately, community is what you put into it. You can choose to participate a little or a lot. It’s really up to you. When you want company, it’s there. When you want privacy, you’ve got it. But no matter how much you participate, cohousing offers little risk of being eaten by Alsatians.
LEARN MORE ABOUT COMPASS
Langley’s New Village Opportunity
Just enter your details below and we’ll send you out our Project Briefing. You’ll learn more about cohousing and who it’s for, meet some of our members, see detailed drawings and get a really good idea of the community we’re building here in Langley.