Archive for Friday, July 7, 2000

Cohousing meeting puts focus on people

July 7, 2000

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Nearly 50 people attended a meeting Thursday night to learn about building an old-fashioned community in Lawrence.

Four households currently make up the group working to found a cohousing community based around a common building, a pedestrian thoroughfare and neighborly togetherness.

"The houses are not the main reason for me to be in cohousing," Lawrence member Steve Polson said. "I want the community and that connection with my neighbors."

He said the group brought consultant Chris ScottHanson, a development and planning expert from Washington state, to help find a plot of land and set out a budget for the project.

ScottHanson, who has been involved in the cohousing movement for 12 years, spoke for nearly an hour at the Lawrence Public Library, 727 Vt., before answering questions from the crowd.

"What makes cohousing so special is it's a participatory process," ScottHanson said. "It's designed to be people friendly and encourage eye-to-eye contact."

The Lawrence group has yet to draw any designs, but is looking to build an intimate set of about 30 homes that will encourage the feel of an old-time village where neighbors share meals and keep an eye out for one another's children.

"The choice is to cluster houses together so geometrically, the pedestrian walkway works out," ScottHanson said.

The cohousing concept originated in Denmark in the 1960s. The idea was exported to America in the late 1980s and has resulted in 50 cohousing communities in North America with another 150 being developed, he said.

Polson and his group brought ScottHanson to Lawrence Wednesday and spent Thursday examining potential development sites on Delaware Street and Monterey Way.

He said they met with East Lawrence developers Thursday and will meet with others today.

"The question Chris has been asking them is to check their interest and to learn about how (housing developments) are done here," Polson said.

Lawrence Cohousing Community will next meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the South Park Recreational Building.

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