mixed income community

Create Communities of Opportunity

  On March 23rd, members of Schemata Workshop attended the Housing Development Consortium (HDC) 4th Annual Luncheon; HDC is a professional association and advocate for providing affordable housing in King County. Schemata Workshop is a sponsor and member of HDC and we are advocates for their cause. At the luncheon we were fortunate enough to have Angela Glover Blackwell, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of PolicyLink, as the keynote speaker. Her speech was so inspiring that we were compelled to take notes summarizing the key components to create communities of opportunity.

First, Angela described the St. Louis, MO community where she grew up and how the neighborhood children played together in the front yards and streets without fear of danger. A community where her mother anxiously watched, perched out on the front porch, as she made her way to the corner store for the first time. It was an economically diverse community of doctors and lawyers living next to the single parent receiving food stamps. It was a community that fostered opportunity.

However, not all of our society experienced the same upbringing as Angela and members of our society have children that run the risk of not succeeding to their full potential. As Angela said, in these economic times, this is the first time that children are not expected to have the same opportunities as their parents. In addition, she emphasized that one’s housing determines so much more than we think. It determines the type of education and healthcare one can receive; also it determines what types of jobs are available. Those who work on housing and housing policies are indirectly working on health, education and job policies as well.

After painting the picture of an excellent community and emphasizing the need and importance of successful housing, Angela began to identify the key components to create communities of opportunity.

Creating Communities of Opportunities – 5 steps

1. Place matters

  • Creating a sense of place contributes to a sense identity for the community


2. Access to reliable transit

  • Provides the opportunity to seek better jobs, health care, and education


3. Integrate income levels and promote racial diversity

  • Provides richness of life and opportunity


4. Sustainability

  • Provide all 3 components of sustainability – environmental, social, economic equity


5. Inclusion

  • Integrate yourself in the community to understand their needs


The key components to create communities of opportunity are not new ideas individually, but we often forget that we need to take into account all components to provide successful housing. Angela ended her speech with the statement “Don’t be nostalgic for a time that never was.” However, I think we can use nostalgia to create goals for achieving communities of opportunity.


Curious about Cohousing?

  [caption id="attachment_433" align="alignleft" width="700" caption="Dinner in Common House"][/caption]

You may have read previous blog posts about cohousing and wondered, "What is cohousing?"  If you have, you may have googled cohousing and found the website for the Cohousing Association of the United States (or CohoUS).    Good for you! 

If you haven't, then in a nutshell, cohousing is a type of collaborative neighborhood in which residents actively participate in the design and operation of their own community.  A central aspect of living in cohousing is a balance between private and community life.  Neighborhood physical design encourages walkability and social contact while preserving resident needs for private space.  Homes are conventional and privately owned or rented but residents have access to numerous shared facilities such as a community house, common green spaces, and play spaces.

Great, now you have a definition!  But you might still have many questions about what they look/feel like and why people choose to live in cohousing communities.  Perhaps because you wonder, "Would I like to live in a cohousing community?"

If you are interested in:

  • Living lightly on the earth.
  • Knowing and working cooperatively with your neighbors.
  • Reducing your household chores (cooking, cleaning, yardwork).
  • Sharing resources (woodshop, bikeshop, art space, kids play area).
  • Having people check in on you when you are old, alone, sick, lonely, sad, ....(fill in the blank).
  • Celebrating life's accomplishments and milestones with a group of people who care about you and want to celebrate with you.
  • Living your values and having others encourage you to realize your full potential.

then you probably should be interested in learning more about cohousing.

If you’re looking for an alternative to how you live, I would encourage you to attend an informational session on cohousing community oriented, cooperatively managed, but independently owned housing.

Who:      Open to renters and homeowners, children welcome

Where:   First United Methodist Church (Fellowship Hall) - 180 Denny Way, Seattle, WA

When:    Saturday, October 23, 2010 10:00am-12:00pm

Cost:      FREE but RVSP required        

RSVP:    http://cohousing1023.eventbrite.com