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Subject: Cohousing : Optimal Living Arrangments for Gamers rss

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Jeremiah Lee
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Over in the Spontaneous Gaming thread, we started talking a bit about gaming life in a cohousing community. Rather than hijack that thread, I thought I'd start a new one.

What is cohousing? (as per Cohousing.org)
Quote:
Cohousing is a type of collaborative housing in which residents actively participate in the design and operation of their own neighborhoods.

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.


Why is it good for gamers? (as per my experience)
There are so many reasons, the biggest of which is that cohousing seems to attract people that play games. People that enjoy the social aspect of gaming are more likely to enjoy the available social options at cohousing. On top of that, people who play boardgames are already outside of the mainstream enough to recognize the opportunity that cohousing offers, and give it a chance.

So, we have people that want to play games, what else do we need? We need a place to play! In cohousing you have a central 'common house' (Shared facility owned and managed by the community. The common house typically includes a common kitchen, dining area, sitting area, children's playroom and laundry, and also may contain a workshop, library, exercise room, crafts room and/or one or two guest rooms.). Our common house has lots of space for gaming, and games are going on at least twice a week, sometimes up to five nights a week. Here are some of the people in my community, seven of the people on this page are also on our Boardgames email list (yes, I'm the organizer), but only one other Touchstone resident has a BGG account. Yes, I'm the second person on the page.

People, space...we need ease.
Our common house is within walking distance of everyone's home. I don't have to drive 20-60 minutes (each way) to play a game. This leaves -much- more time for gaming. The common house is always picked up, and my house isn't, so I don't have to worry about getting my house ready for visitors. It's easy.


I'd be happy to talk more about cohousing for gamers, and I'd love it even more if you'd stop by at Touchstone Cohousing in Ann Arbor so I could show you around (and maybe play some Power Grid, Zombie in my Pocket, Race for the Galaxy, or whatever you're up for). There are cohousing communities all over the world.
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Russ Williams
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The common house is a very nice idea! Not only for the common space (for gaming and other general socializing) but efficient sharing of laundry, workshop, and so on. It's such a strange wasteful thing that so many people own duplicate equipment like power tools etc that most people don't actually use very often, so sharing them with neighbors would save money, save storage space, be more ecological, etc.

Do the guest rooms in the common house work on a first-come first-served basis? Or does each resident get a quota of nights they can have guests? Have you ever had out-of-town boardgaming couchsurfers visit and stay with you?
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Jeremiah Lee
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russ wrote:
It's such a strange wasteful thing that so many people own duplicate equipment like power tools etc that most people don't actually use very often, so sharing them with neighbors would save money, save storage space, be more ecological, etc.


russ wrote:
Do the guest rooms in the common house work on a first-come first-served basis? Or does each resident get a quote of nights they can have guests? Have you ever had out-of-town boardgaming couchsurfers visit and stay with you?
It's first-come first-served. Even if there is a conflict, we are lucky enough to have another cohousing community next door (and we can use their guest room), and there are some neighbors that have offered their extra rooms to guests.

I've never had out-of-town boardgaming coachsurfers visit, but I'd love to. Next time you're in town, feel free to let me know.
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Sue Hemberger

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LOL! And here my husband has been asking what we're going to do re gaming when our beloved Lizzy flees to the opposite coast. Next time he begins this lament, I'll say brightly "Co-housing in Takoma Park, dear!" and see how he reacts.
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We've often talked about a retirement community for gamers, but this could allow many of us to get a head start.
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Jeremiah Lee
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smithhemb wrote:
"Co-housing in Takoma Park, dear!" and see how he reacts.
There are many at-first-reluctant spouses (who are often the introverts, and fear that they're going to be asked to be overly social), but a great thing about cohousing is that the less social people are able to socialize as much (or as little) as they want. They still have the privacy of their home, and they don't -have- to be involved in the social community the way their more social friends/spouses are.

That's how it works in my family, and in my community. My wife gets to be social when she wants, and she can be private when she wants.
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lisa smith
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There is a cohousing in oakland, california that is right next to a big FLGS with lots of gamiing space so you can play there or in the common house.


In my cohousing, neraly everyone like word and party games, but sadly I am the only euro gameplayer. (fortunately I like party games as well, just not as much)
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Jeremiah Lee
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spearjr wrote:
We've often talked about a retirement community for gamers, but this could allow many of us to get a head start.
There's a movement to get more retirees in the cohousing communities, as this allows them to 'age in place'. They can stay in their cohousing homes, and stay with the support of the community that knows and cares about them already.
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Adam Alleman
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Jeremiah thanks for starting this thread! Nice to know there are other cohousers that are gamers. I host a game night once a month, where I invite all of the community as well as members of all the various game groups in the area it's awesome.

Russ as per your original question about commuting. Our cohousing community is actually the first to also be built inside a new urbanist development. You can find out more about that here: http://www.newurbanism.org/. You can find out more about our specific community here: http://www.highlandsgardenvillage.net/.
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Russ Williams
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Adam - thanks for the info. I see http://www.newurbanism.org/newurbanism/featuredbooks.html has an excellent reading list! I have read "Suburban Nation" and was quite impressed by it. Glad to see those sorts of ideas (which I basically think of as designing cities for people instead of for cars) getting implemented. Step by step...
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Adam Alleman
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Oh, I should also add that the reason I got into games and found this site is because I live in cohousing. One of our neighbors donated a Risk game to the common house on 1/1/07. After spending a day playing Risk I was hooked. After a couple of months of going crazy with that, another neighbor introduced Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers and I didn't get it at first. Then because of that game another neighbor went out and bought the big box Carcassonne. One day I wanted to find out more about this awesome game and searched the internet. I've been here ever since. My wallet is much thinner, but I am much happier.
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Sue Hemberger

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Jeremiah_Lee wrote:
spearjr wrote:
We've often talked about a retirement community for gamers, but this could allow many of us to get a head start.
There's a movement to get more retirees in the cohousing communities, as this allows them to 'age in place'. They can stay in their cohousing homes, and stay with the support of the community that knows and cares about them already.


Yes, we're moving my husband's dad up from FL and into assisted living near us this week and I was thinking about how daunting it will be for him to get to know new people when he's already feeling as if he's not himself/at his best. If we're all going to end up living communally near the ends of our lives, it's not a bad idea to start that sooner rather than later.

And, also, what's appealing about assisted living is that each individual isn't responsible for all of his/her own housekeeping (cooking, shopping, cleaning, lawn care) and that expensive goods (e.g. nurses) can be shared rather than monopolized. Obviously, assisted living is a more commercially-oriented venture than co-housing (and one where labor is more often bought than provided by members), but communal resources are a key part of the model.
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Michael Webb
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Intriguing post, reminds me of why I like Ann Arbor so much.

I'll need to read up on this idea in general now, but thanks for giving me the heads up.
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Adam Alleman
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No no, Denver is better
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Marc P
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Man, and I just moved away from AA! Still, I'll take just about everything else about Seattle over AA. Sorry our paths never crossed.

Marc
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Julie Taylor
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We don't live in cohousing, but we are in a cooperative (same idea, but you don't own equity in your home. It's more like a rental complex, but self-governed and non-profit). We originally came here thinking we'd stay for a couple of years until we could afford a house. But now we're so happy here (for all the reasons that you mentioned above) that we're going to stay. If you're a social person there's no better lifestyle. Yet it's surprising how few people realize that it's an option.
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Kevin Peters Unrau
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We also lived in a Co-op in Waterloo for the past seven years (just moved out) and shared a house with another family for a few years before that.

These kinds of communities foster the development of a lot of social capital. I can't count the number of occasions living in a community like that has provided significant support in times of crisis.

And yes, they are also good for developing game groups!
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Jeff Jones
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Sounds like a bunch of hippies to me.

Seriously though, I love this idea.
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Jeremiah Lee
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Kafka wrote:
Sounds like a bunch of hippies to me.
Seriously though, I love this idea.
I thought/feared it was going to be much more 'hippy' than it turned out to be. We're a diverse group of people, we just want to have a real sense of community in our neighborhood.
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Jeremiah_Lee wrote:
Kafka wrote:
Sounds like a bunch of hippies to me.
Seriously though, I love this idea.
I thought/feared it was going to be much more 'hippy' than it turned out to be. We're a diverse group of people, we just want to have a real sense of community in our neighborhood.

I've lived in my current house for 4+ years. I couldn't tell you the last name of anyone else on my street and I'm only 50% sure of the first names of like 3-4 people. We have no community in our neighborhood. Even the couple across the street with kids approx the same age as ours we don't do anything with.
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Russell Grieshop
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spearjr wrote:
I've lived in my current house for 4+ years. I couldn't tell you the last name of anyone else on my street and I'm only 50% sure of the first names of like 3-4 people. We have no community in our neighborhood. Even the couple across the street with kids approx the same age as ours we don't do anything with.


Thanks for sharing that. I know what you mean. I've always made the attempt to get to know my neighbors, to introduce myself, to strike up conversations... and yet, in many cases, even in older well established neighborhoods, I'm often the only person on the street who knows the first (and often times last) names of our neighbors.

It says something about our culture that we don't know the people we live near better. I feel more comfortable and safer knowing my neighbors. I find that older neighbors often just appreciate having someone to talk to.

I often times wonder why more people don't play games in our culture. I think playing games is socially constructive, fun, entertaining, and rewarding (naturally I feel this way...). But I know most people don't know their neighbors, so finding people to play with can be a challenge.

I paid a lot of attention to intentional communities and co-housing about a decade ago, and then my interest waned... but hearing the positive stories that you are sharing here sure does spike my interest up again.

I have in my head something I borrowed from a book years ago - the definition proposed for "The Good Life". This author said living The Good Life was:
Living in the place you love
Doing the work that you love (that you'd do if you didn't get paid)
With the people that you love and care about

Thank you all for sharing!

Russell
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Randy Cox
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Until this thread, I had never heard the term "cohousing" before. I wonder if my wife (who is better versed in new agey things) knows of it.

Anyway, I read through the Touchstone site and it sure sounded hippielike. I don't know if I could handle it, as my door curtain would always be drawn. I just don't like having folk into the house unless I prep for it and get all the clutter out of the way and pick up and such, hence it happens about once a year.

I know others, even in our neighborhood, who think of the neighborhood as being like Leave it to Beaver or Lassie, where people just walk up and into your house or they just send the kids over to play whenever they feel like it. But I'm too crotchety for that.

I like the idea of a communal room, but I'm not so sure about a whole house. I could see contention over who gets to use the common house or extra bedrooms or washing machine. Does this sort of thing happen?

And what about people who do not want to participate in the community garden or other "works"? Can they just opt out and not be on the hook for several hours per month? I just wonder how all that would work.

I love the utopian sound if it, but I just wonder how it could work in the real world. Much as I like the idea of mingling with the neighbors, I know too many people who I really, really, really do NOT want to associate with. And they're allowed in my neighborhood just as much as I am. :)

I also checked out the other resource page you noted. As I expected, there are no cohousing communities in this state. And in neighboring states, there are none very close (except for Hippietown, Asheville NC, where I was sure there would be one). I just don't see this catching on 'round here. :)

Thanks for the info and I'm glad it's working out for you. And as much as I like to think of myself as progressive and even having hippie tendencies, I just can't see this one. I shudder when people talk about their subdivision homeowner's association and use of the pool and recreation room plus the requirements to fund common areas and even pitch in to help out.
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tim Tim TIm TIM TIMMY!!
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Very cool thread, thanks for starting it.

We are building a house right now, and in a year I would like to build a nice 1 level triplex, the idea would be to only rent to people we get along with and they will have to be gamers for me to rent long term to them , not sure if it will work out like that, but I have to dream anyways.

A hippie community, count me in, I miss touring with the Dead I tell you, such great memeories.
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Jeremiah Lee
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Randy Cox wrote:
I don't know if I could handle it, as my door curtain would always be drawn. I just don't like having folk into the house unless I prep for it and get all the clutter out of the way and pick up and such, hence it happens about once a year.
Thereare certainly people like that here. There are homes that I don't visit unless invited for a special occasions, and homes I know it's okay for me to just walk right in, as well as homes in different shades of these two examples. In fact, I've only been in the home of one of the gamers that I play twice in two years.

Randy Cox wrote:
I like the idea of a communal room, but I'm not so sure about a whole house. I could see contention over who gets to use the common house or extra bedrooms or washing machine. Does this sort of thing happen?
The common house is open to everyone, all the time. There are some things that are 'reserved' ahead of time, like the guest rooms, and laundry (everyone has the option to have their own laundry in their unit, so there are really only about a quarter of us taking advantage of the common laundry). We very rarely have any contention, and when we do it's pretty easily fixed. We share the reading space, the multipurpose space, the kids room, and such.

Randy Cox wrote:
And what about people who do not want to participate in the community garden or other "works"? Can they just opt out and not be on the hook for several hours per month? I just wonder how all that would work.
Well, it's an intentional community, so you know when you're looking at the home that you're expected to work to keep the costs down, and to help keep the sense of community. We get to choose what kind of work we do (which I think is fantastic, as I haven't mowed my lawn in years), so people tend not to mind the work that they do. It's all stuff you'd need to do at your own home anyway (lawn, handyman, shovelling).

Randy Cox wrote:
I love the utopian sound if it, but I just wonder how it could work in the real world. Much as I like the idea of mingling with the neighbors, I know too many people who I really, really, really do NOT want to associate with. And they're allowed in my neighborhood just as much as I am.
It does work. I love it here. There are certainly people that I'm less likely to want to talk to than others, but there's no 'law' about needing to be happy with everyone. We have a diverse group of people, and there are going to be conflicts.

Randy Cox wrote:
I shudder when people talk about their subdivision homeowner's association and use of the pool and recreation room plus the requirements to fund common areas and even pitch in to help out.
I think that the 'intentional' bit of cohousing really helps here. We're all building this together, this environment, this community. We make the rules, so we don't have to fight against outside influences.

I'd be happy to have you here for a weekend if you ever find yourself in Ann Arbor. We'll set you up in the guest room, and you could have a Saturday common brunch with us (there are optional common meals 3 times a week at Touchstone).

Thanks for the comments!
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Adam Alleman
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I was planning on replying to Randy's thread when I had a chance but you beat me to it Jeremiah. I will say that most of my answers would be the same as Jeremiah's, but each community has it's own flavor as diverse as the people who live there. We have some people who I don't see for months and others who are at every scheduled event as well as most of the unscheduled events. I have not been inside everyone's house that lives here and don't plan to. I have a neighbor that I hate and have no idea why such a crotchety person moved into a place like this except to make everyone as miserable as her. Most of my neighbors would agree. Even with her here I would not trade this living arrangement for the suburb we moved from or any other and we had a hot tub! As far as gaming goes I can't tell you how may times I am able to just whip up a game, perfect. My wife is an introvert and was really worried about moving here, she loves it, although she would like our neighbor to move.
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