The word ‘cohousing’ may be relatively recent, but the concept is as old as time. Today, cohousing is described as one example of the ‘sharing economy’: the peer-to-peer hybrid exchange of goods and services, organised around online communication. Yesterday, it was called cooperative/collaborative socialisation: two or more people working together to realize shared goals, the very opposite of competition. A long time ago, it was called village life: a small group of households huddled together for human contact and mutual help. Our Cannock Mill Cohousing has all the characteristics of these three forms of community: mutual support; shared space, time and goals; togetherness and sociability; economic and social efficiency: more bang for your buck!
An obvious example is our car sharing scheme. By communally owning our cars we reduce the cost of each owning a specific car. After all, if we are not using our car every hour of the day why not share it and the associated costs. We also get added flexibility, since we can select the type of car most appropriate to our particular needs. For shorter, but necessary journeys, individuals can use a small electric car; where people want to travel together, to visit a local market, set out for a walk, or go to choir or an event, we have a minivan. This reduce costs and adds to the fun.
Another type of sharing enables many of us to downsize our homes without worrying about loss of space, especially for occasional visitors. Our common house gives us all a huge living room and dining room and kitchen and our grounds have enough space for the most land-hungry gardener. A lot of us would like to have enough bedrooms to invite friends and family to stay over. But we don’t want to have to afford and maintain a big house or flat with one or two spare bedrooms which, for most of the time, would be unused. Instead, we have incorporated two spare bedrooms for guests in our communal house. We have also designed the spare bedrooms in bigger houses so they can easily be made independent. Those en suite bedrooms can be occupied by friends and family of other members of our cohousing: a sort of Airbnb, but between people who know each other very well, who trust each other and who actually like each other. In this way we share and reduce costs and build our sense of community.
We have other communal schemes in the pipeline too; for example, sharing tools and bulk buying. For us Millers, cohousing is about owning our home and sharing common spaces in a spirit of mutual support so that the whole of our collective wellbeing is greater than the sum of our individual parts.
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