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The Sweet Pursuit

Former Associate editor Margret Aldrich on the hunt for happiness, community, and how humans thrive

A Cohousing Community Grows in Brooklyn

 by Julie Hanus

Tags: community building, human ecology, cohousing, cooperative living, decision making, Next American City, Brooklyn Cohousing, Julie Hanus,

brooklyn brownstoneCohousing communities have been around for decades, but until recently not in New York City, reports Next American City. Brooklyn Cohousing intends to change that: Founded in 2007, the now 20-household group is in the thick of developing cooperative apartment living in the NYC borough—and providing a cool opportunity to observe the nuts and bolts of a contemporary cohousing start-up.

Take decision making, for example. As Anna Wiener writes in Next American City:

Members of Brooklyn Cohousing make most of their decisions using a nuanced consensus process. There is no designated leader or manager, though members alternate meeting moderation duties. In an attempt to expedite meetings and dodge digressions and interruptions, members guide the conversation with color-coded cards, raising yellow to ask a question, green to answer, blue to share a feeling or opinion and so on. In the planning states, this process has been used to make decisions about everything from finances to design details. As one member wryly observed at a recent meeting, the process leads to a “better quality of decisions, not necessarily a high quantity of decisions.”

Members of the group acknowledge that the decision-making process, however painstaking, has been integral to the formation of a tight-knit community. “I think a big thing that’s compelling interest in this is actually a breakdown of some of the more traditional types of community,” [founder Alex] Marshall says. “Forty to 50 years ago . . . . it was much more common to have various close-knit neighborhoods. People often have to create consciously what used to happen more unconsciously.”

Read more about Brooklyn Cohousing’s vision and ambitions on the organization’s website, including the challenges of financing cohousing in this economy.

Source: Next American City (excerpt only)

Image by 561design, licensed under Creative Commons.