By Mariah McKay
Cohousing offers families and individuals a greater quality of life through collaboration. It shows that we can live better in community, and that is important in a culture that has gone too far in propping up a myth of invulnerability through individualism. For those who can afford a home in privately developed communities, cohousing is a lifestyle choice with “quadruple bottom line” benefits. The quadruple bottom line is looking at “People, Profit, Planet and Policy.” In cohousing, relationships are long-term investments that reap rewards over the course of a lifetime. We are able to save ongoing living expenses by purchasing goods and services together, and we can live more lightly on the planet. Cohousers often employ consensus decision-making practices that give people a strong foundation to participate in civic life more broadly. I believe we need to scale and better support cohousing to make our society more stable, healthy and inclusive.
Cohousing must not become the quaint legacy of the baby boomer generation in our country. At a time when the need for cohousing is greater than ever before, our ability to create it as small groups of middle-class households in the private sector is dwindling. Young people need to get involved and ask ourselves the question: “Do we want to raise our children even better than how we grew up? Or do we want to spend the rest of our lives fighting the same old battles while slowly sliding backwards in our country due to macro-economic trends?” I believe team humanity has the ability to turn a corner and create a more just world. Cohousing is an essential strategy in changing the game we are in. Most of my peers understand that, but just haven’t yet discovered cohousing as a vehicle for creating systemic change.
It is all about you. Everyone has different motivations. Maybe you sense that a feeling of deep belonging is missing from your life. Maybe you know that it shouldn’t be so difficult to create a vibrant community in your neighborhood. Perhaps you want your kids to grow up surrounded by trusted mentors in a stimulating, nurturing environment. I want all of these things, as well as showing my community that better ways of living are possible. Do it for you and get involved for our common future.
Mariah McKay is a forming group member of Haystack Heights. Mariah is a new economy organizer and former public health educator at the Spokane Regional Health District where she worked to create safe ways for children to walk and bike to school and encouraged active transportation among adults. She serves on the board of the University District and wrote a monthly column for The Inlander. (See her recent profile in Spokane Coeur D’Alene Living). Mariah has worked as a community organizer for affordable healthcare, to advance progressive tax reform, broaden dental access, and take action towards comprehensive immigration reform. In her spare time she can be found making compost for the garden, creating community through a variety of social and civic groups, and supporting Spokane’s growing arts, culture, and food scene.