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Cohousing conference coming to Boulder

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Hearthstone, a c0-housing community in Highlands' Garden Village

Hippies used to call them communes.

But for more than 20 years, the idea of collaborative housing in which residents actively participate in the design and operation of their own neighborhoods, bears a new moniker- cohousing.

Leaders of the movement will discuss the latest developments and trends in the industry, from June 18 to June 20, when the Cohousing Association of the United States holds its 10th annual conference at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Workshops and tours of local cohousing projects will be held on June 16 and 17. The conference will bring together aspiring cohousers, cohousing residents, cohousing professionals, community organizers, sustainability experts, academics, and those who are simply curious about living in community. The conference will include keynote talks from the two architects who coined the phrase cohousing and brought the concept to the U.S.

Cohousing residents are consciously committed to living as a community. The physical design encourages both social contact and individual space. Private homes contain all the features of conventional homes, but residents also have access to extensive common facilities such as open space, courtyards, a playground and a common house. Nationally, there are 120 cohousing communities with 20 more in the forming stages. Colorado has 12 cohousing communities, more than any state except Massachusetts, Washington, and California.

Children can play in a little pocket park such as this one at Hearthstone, without worrying about traffic.

Connecting two powerful parallel movements, this year’s conference theme – Sustainability through Community – highlights collaboration as a key to making the transition required by global climate change. “Participating in the 2010 National Cohousing Conference will empower you to be more successful in pursuing your community interests while also giving you the opportunity to reflect and build on ideas for more sustainable living.” said program chairman Bryan Bowen.

The last time the conference was in Colorado was 2003. Jim Leach, founder of Boulder-based Wonderland Hill Development Co. and chair of the 2010 conference. “It was originally a grassrootsy collection of cohousing zealots getting together to compare notes,” Leach said. Now, the annual event attracts more than 300 people from around the US and beyond, with the 2009 conference drawing attendees from 10 countries. Wonderland Hill Development was a pioneer in the cohousing industry, with a more than 30-year history in the industry.

Cohousing founders to speak

Conference highlights include:

Cohousing University – In-depth, two-day intensive workshops on June 16 and June 17 will provide tools and information participants can use as they build and grow their own cohousing communities. For the first time, researchers and writers will participate in a special workshop. Other courses are: Developing Cohousing: Soup to Nuts and a Few Lessons Learned; Growing Community: Head, Heart, and Hands; and Sustainability: Environmental + Economic + Cultural.

Featured SpeakersBill McKibben,  founder of 350.org, an international climate campaign, June 18; Dave Wann, a Boulder-based author, director who creates documentaries on sustainable living, June 18; Architects and husband and wife, Charles Durrett and Kathryn McCamant,will discuss the connections between sustainability and community.  Durrett and McCamant, coined the word “cohousing” and introduced the concept to the U.S. with their book, Cohousing: A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves. It was first published in 1988.

Community Tours – Full-day tours on June 16 and June 17 and half-day tours on June 18 will travel to 11 Colorado cohousing communities.

Conference Sessions – Running from June 18 through June 20, more than 60 presentations will focus on ways to create and sustain cohousing communities.

Fundraising Banquet – Featuring a live auction, the Saturday night event brings everyone together to eat, network, play – and raise money for the cohousing movement.

Coho/US executive director Craig Ragland has witnessed growth in participation with this national conference and says that, whether you attend the whole conference or just one day, there is something powerful about “bringing diverse perspectives together.” Presenters and participants represent numerous communities in many geographical locations, thus creating “a more complete experience.”

To learn about the conference, visit this Website.

Contact John Rebchook at JRCHOOK@gmail.com or 303-945-6865.