A 60's solution to the financial crisis

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While many Americans have rolled along spending more than we earn and buying more than we produce, a movement that has its roots in the 60's could become the direction of the future. Almost half a century ago, we called it communal living. Today, the term is co-housing or intentional community.

How far will Americans go in changing our lifestyles? The answer may depend on whether gas stays at $4.00 - or climbs much higher.

Cohousing has huge potential to reduce the cost of living. At the same time, it can alleviate the loneliness that plagues so many Americans. Encompassing ecovillages, some of these groups are miles ahead of the rest of us in green living, according toCommunities Magazine.Intentional communities come in a vast array of forms. There are communities centered on raising families, artist communities, urban communities, and those whose focus is living off the land. Co-housing charters range from the predictable to the unlikely. For example, the mission of Mobile Communities USA is to assist people who want to develop their own horse or ox-drawn RV's. These groups are as varied as the individuals who come together for their creation. Some have existed - in one form or another - since the 60's. Many are open to new members, some are just forming. Co-housing offers the possibility of companionship and shared goals as well as reduced financial expenses and a smaller individual footprint on the planet. Magic they are not.

Just like families, co-housing groups are full of difficulties and challenges. When either works, their members are afforded huge advantages - shared labor, both skilled and unskilled, and expenses, shared childcare, emotional support and the benefit of a huge mutual investment. When they don't work, well books could be written. As Tolstoy wrote in Anna Karenina, "All happy families are alike, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

Interested? Consider attending the Northwest Intentional Communities Association (NICA) gathering in Portland, Oregon July 25-27. On the east coast, there is the Communities Conference at Twin Oaks Community near Louisa, Virginia August 15-17th where more than 25 different communities will be represented.

I'll be writing more about cohousing - with profiles of unique communities - during July.
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