My experience at the Cohousing Conference is what I imagine living in a cohousing community to be like, at a GIANT scale. We had our own living spaces (hotel rooms) but were drawn toward the conference hall to share meals, exchange ideas, and socialize. The conference center was the make-shift Common House for a community on a national scale.
Everyone was actively engaged to create a sense of community. Attendees contributed in sessions and connected over similar lived experiences. Presenters gave others space to share their issues and were generous with words of encouragement but were also refreshingly direct about potential obstacles and lessons learned. Adesina Cameron’s presentation about financial literacy for the development of cohousing was especially enlightening. The way she presented the information felt like a conversation with a trusted favorite aunt.
People asked for help and were generous with a surprising ease. There was a prominently displayed community board solely for this purpose. A conference organizer offered to give me the official conference t-shirt she was wearing so the attendees in the session I was monitoring would know I was a volunteer. I was swept up in the energy and found myself enthusiastically taking on impromptu conference tasks. This sense of generosity was exemplified by the keynote speech given by Courtney Martin about the sharing of time, expertise, and community in cohousing and capped with a call to action for extending this sense of abundance beyond cohousing.
While I soaked up plenty of new technical information about cohousing design, the engagement and generosity I felt at the conference made the most impactful impression. The weekend was an inspiring reminder that we can all build stronger communities by intentionally reaching out and making connections with neighbors through shared time, meals, skills, and simply asking for help.