News / USA

    Washington Homeowners Live in Modern Village

    Takoma Village residents promote community living

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Faiza Elmasry

    The neighborhood in northwest Washington D.C. looks like a typical American townhouse development, but Takoma Village Cohousing is anything but ordinary.

    The privately-owned units cluster around a shared open space, and the 80 or so residents share a common building with a kids’ playroom, study room, laundry, kitchen and  huge living area, and they have meals together there several times a week.

    Modern village

    It's all part of an intentional community, similar to an old-fashioned village, where everyone knows everyone else.

    “What I like most is I know all my neighbors. It’s just like a family,” says Sharon Villines, one of the first residents to move into Takoma Village Cohousing when it opened in 2000. “There is a Monday night group that consists of 30, 40 people. It varies. Two or three people would cook each week and serve other people. We have lots of pot-lucks where people bring things. That works very well.”

    This community - a child-friendly, multi-generational, ethnically diverse and self-managed neighborhood - is one of more than 150 cohousing communities across the United States.

    “For me the most important advantage for cohousing is diversity," says Abe Hussein. He and his wife left a house in upstate New York, with four bedrooms and an indoor swimming pool, to move to Takoma Village six years ago.

    “One good thing about cohousing is it’s also a great place for raising kids. They don’t have any strangers because they see their neighbors every day or every week,” he says.

    Co-housing concept

    The concept of cohousing began in Denmark and was brought to the United States by architects Charles Durrett and Kathryn McCamant.

    “My husband and I were young architects studying in Denmark when we came across this idea. It really intrigued us both on a personal and a professional level,” McCamant says.

    They wrote about it in a 1988 book, called "Cohousing." They recently published a second book, "Creating Cohousing."

    “It’s the oldest idea about how people lived together. I think what we did was sort of take the Danish model and adapt it to an American model, to our crazy, modern 21st century lives,” McCamant says.

    One of the most distinctive aspects of cohousing, says Ann Zabaldo - who is very involved in running the community - is how neighbors take care of Takoma Village themselves.

    “We have a group of about four or five people, who - as part of what we call work share, or their part of the contribution to the community - is every two weeks, they clean the common house. We have a specific person who cleans the bathrooms and in between, people are expected pick up after themselves, when they use the common house.”

    Residents run the community by consensus, and openly discuss problems they see.

    “We don’t have a children’s council, for example, that makes rules and talks about how children will or will not behave in the community,” Villines says.

    Hussein adds, "One of the areas I have a lot of troubles with is work share. The assumption here is that everyone will do some work, and most of the people do, but there are a few people who don’t.”

    Eco-friendly


    Cohousing, says architect McCamant, is an efficient, economical and environmentally-sound way to live.

    “We have chosen to live in smaller houses with more community facilities and very energy efficient houses; we live more sustainably. We use less of the Earth resources, less energy and drive less.”

    Cohousing is also about creating a better quality of life.

    “It’s hard to talk with your neighbors when you don’t know them," says McCamant. "But by building that sense of trust, by working with them in the gardens, or with some kids’ projects or we need to repaint this building, just really simple day to day things, you begin to build that trust and then you can work through problems as they come up.”

    Those interactions help make every cohousing neighborhood different, as neighbors shape life inside their community through their initiative, imagination and participation.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.