The cohousing movement, a form of intentional community which began in Denmark, was brought to the United States in the 1980’s. It has grown significantly over the years, and there is intention for exponential growth in the coming years. Cohousing in Asheville, a city with a variety of intentional community experiments, consists of only one official cohousing projects – Westwood Cohousing in West Asheville.
The original movement involves building community among potential members starting with predevelopment concerns. Potential members gather to envision what their community will look like, to scope out potential land, and to work together to bring the project to fruition.
Although this can be a successful approach to community development, it is fraught with potential problems. Failure is common due to differing values and expectations, the lack of relational skills and tools, and the need for difficult decision making. Last I heard, only about 1 in 7 project attempts get built.
Influenced by the cohousing movement, “pocket neighborhoods” have become an alternative for developer driven projects. These cohousing style of communities are often designed, developed, and built by professionals and then sold to seekers of intentional community. Although this eliminates some of the problems, it creates others. Often, with idealistic vision, new owners spend years in frustration establishing common ground and an effective decision making process.
Along with these two established models, there are many hybrid methods for developing cohousing style projects. Echo Hills Cottages is an attempt to develop a hybrid approach to cohousing in Asheville. Our approach combines the best practices of traditional cohousing and pocket neighborhoods. Our approach includes foundational parameters for design and building, along with the incorporation of skills and tools for co-creating a collaborative culture. At the same time, we are focused on establishing a cohesive core group of people that work together for the common good, intent on cultivating the culture of the neighborhood we want to live in.
For more information, check out the websites for Pocket Neighborhoods and the Cohousing Association. Also, feel free to contact me about cohousing in Asheville or specifically about the hybrid model of Echo Hills Cottages.