Cooperative Green Eco Housing on the Way
Jun 13, 2011 04:59PM
● By Angela Alston
Wouldn't it be nice if you knew your neighbors, your kids always had someone to play with, you always had a babysitter available, you lived more sustainably, with a smaller carbon footprint, you spent less on transportation and utilities, you shared meals, laundry and work space, pool, veggie garden and maybe cars and you could age in place by staying in your home as long as possible?
All this and more is possible in an intentional community that aims for a return to village life, in which residents design and manage their own community. In the Dallas/Fort Worth area, there are at least three such communities in various stages of development.
Two of the projects, White Rock Crossing and Dallas Cohousing, 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. Neighborhoods are designed 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 and craft room, guest rooms and whatever the community chooses.
4. Residents manage their own community and perform most the maintenance.
5. No person has authority over others and most groups make decisions by consensus.
6. The community is not a source of income for members and there is no shared economy.
White Rock Crossing (WhiteRockCrossing.com) is a townhome community built from the ground up. They have purchased land, designed energy-efficient homes and hope to break ground this year. About half the homes are presold. Two-story homes with attached garage will be priced at about $166 per square foot, including common space.
Dallas Cohousing (DallasCohousing.org) will retrofit an existing warehouse or office building, targeting Dallas properties with land enough for farming, walking distance from services like grocery stores and DART, and is looking for investor/residents. The goal is to retrofit the building sustainably and affordably with foam insulation, rain water harvesting and solar heated hot water. Units should cost about $110 per square foot, including common space.
Also in the works is an ecovillage (DFWNetmall.com/ecovillage) forming east of Dallas. This community is for people who want to grow their own food and live sustainably in a vegetarian community. The vision is for affordable, zero-energy homes, with rainwater harvesting, solar electricity, solar hot water and other green features.
Angela Alston and her husband, Hugh Resnick, are spearheading Dallas Cohousing. Alston co-owns MocaMedia, a company that designs and implements community engagement strategy for independent films. She has lived in shared housing in Seattle, Chicago, Austin, Texas and Brooklyn. Resnick owns Pizel & Associates, a commercial realty brokerage. His background includes eight years of construction and living for eight years in a Denton ashram.