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

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid