Angela Alston – Guest Contributor
Apr 22 2011

Share Meals, Chores & More in an Intentional Community

Imagine that:

  • You knew your neighbors.
  • Your kids always had someone to play with; and always had a babysitter available.
  • You lived more sustainably, with a smaller carbon footprint.
  • You spent less on transportation and utilities.
  • You could grow some of your own food.
  • You shared some meals, laundry & work space, pool, chores, & maybe cars.
  • You could age in place/ stay in your home as long as possible.

All these, and more, are possible in intentional community, a return to village life, in which residents design and manage their own community.

In DFW, there are at least three intentional communities in various stages of development.

Two of the projects use the cohousing model. Pioneered in Denmark, when women first entered the workforce, cohousing created an efficient environment for shared childcare, shopping, cooking, and chores. Six characteristics distinguish cohousing communities:

1. Future residents design the community.
2. Neighborhood design to encourage a strong sense of community.
The dwellings usually face each other across a courtyard, with cars parked on the periphery.
3. The private residences are supplemented with common spaces that typically include:
Kitchen, dining, playroom, laundry, library, exercise & crafts room, guest rooms-
Whatever the community chooses.
4. Residents manage their own community, and perform most the maintenance.
5. No person has authority over others, & most groups make decisions by consensus.
6. The community is not a source of income for members & there is NO shared economy.

Here in Dallas, two cohousing projects are under way:

White Rock Crossing will be a townhome community,  built from the ground up. They've purchased land, designed energy-efficient homes, and hope to break ground this year. About half the homes are presold.  The two-story homes with attached garage will be priced at about $166 per sq. ft, including common space.

Dallas Cohousing will retrofit an existing warehouse or office building. We are targeting Dallas properties with land enough for farming, walking distance from services like grocery stores and DART, and are looking for investor-residents. Our goal is to retrofit the building sustainably--for example, foam insulation, rain water harvesting, and solar-heated hot water-- and affordably. We hope units will be about $110 per sq. ft, including common space.

Also in the works is an rural ecovillage forming east of Dallas. This community is for people who want to grow their own food and live sustainably in a vegetarian community. Their vision is affordable, zero-energy homes with rain water harvesting, solar electricity, solar hot water, and other green features.

If you've been thinking about living more cooperatively and sustainably in the DFW, this could be the time!

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