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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Audio Top 5 Songs for Week Ending May 23

This week's lineup can be summed up like this: 'It's The Same Old Song' - but they're great songs - featuring Walk The Moon, The Weeknd, Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth More

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.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs