Magazine article Insight on the News

With Two Cats in the Yard

Magazine article Insight on the News

With Two Cats in the Yard

Article excerpt

It ain't like the sixties, but the

`cohousing' movement indicates

that communal living remains

attractive to some Americans -- at

least those who can afford it.

At 51 degrees, the weather is

un-characteristically warm for a

Pacific Northwest winter day, and

children are outside playing on the

tile walkway connecting 23 cedar

homes clustered on a hillside in Puget

Ridge, Wash. Marci Malinowycz pulls

a cartload of recyclables through a

common courtyard. "I'd been thinking

of living in a community ever since the

hippie era," she says. "I never did

anything -- just fantasized about it."

But in 1992, Malinowycz attended a

slide show about "cohousing," sponsored

by a group buying land overlooking

Seattle. Homes were still available

and the fledgling community's

rules allowed roaming pets, which

suited her two cats. Planning for the

$3.2 million project, including land

acquisition, construction, street

improvements and landscaping, had

been in the works for five years.

"This," Malinowycz remembers

thinking, "is the new model for the

American Dream." Developers broke

ground in October 1993. Within a year,

residents had moved into the new community

Puget Ridge is one of 24 completed

cohousing projects in the country -- a

"living experiment" that may be to the

21st century what communes were to

the sixties and seventies. Another 26

projects are under construction, with

150 more on the drawing board.

Cohousing communities are

micro-neighborhoods. Each household enjoys

a private home with access to a

"common house" that features a dining

room, children's playroom, lounge,

library and large kitchen. Puget

Ridge's common house also includes

washing and drying machines, billiards

and table tennis and a minitrampoline.

Residents also share yards, garages,

gardens and playgrounds.

Cohousing, imported from Denmark

in the 1970s, is not as radical as

hippie communal life or the Israeli

kibbutz system. Judging from the

movement's literature, projects such

as Puget Ridge appeal to well-educated

baby boomers with environmental

interests and mostly liberal political

views -- one reason the projects are

doing well in the not-so-traditional

American West. Major concentrations

of cohousing communities exist in

Colorado and California, where the

first American cohousing community

was founded in Davis in 1991. Washington

has 15 developments in various

stages, Oregon has 12 and Alaska has

one. …

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