November 24, 2017

Membership committee report:

At the previous meeting, we came to the conclusion that we needed to reach out to other people, since the current group isn’t entirely in agreement about our vision, and there just aren’t enough of us to move forward.  Our hope is that if we connect with others who are interested in senior cohousing, we might figure out what direction we should take, and what type of location and structure will appeal to others.  Ideally, if we find others who seem to share our vision, we might also expand our numbers.

We should contact existing cohousing interest groups, and also launch our own website and Facebook group


There are a number of groups forming in Ontario, in various stages of the process.  All of them are firmly geographically committed, unlike us.  Most of them, like us, seem to be envisioning cohousing as a solution for their senior years, though some are considering multigenerational options.

The Peterborough Cohousing Incubator had a series of meetings in 2016, but hasn’t been very active this year.  As I mentioned before, they seem to have concluded that their membership has very diverse and incompatible ideas on what they want.  However, the architect who is one of the founders has been musing about having another gathering.  I will definitely be encouraging him to do so.

Perth Co-housing Initiative has been having regular meetings since 2015, and seem to have about 16 people who are interested in moving forward – they have a vision statement and a website, but no actual building site.

Waterloo Region Cohousing Project is a group of 14 households who have been meeting regularly since February 2016.  They envision 20-24 multigenerational homes, possibly in an urban location in K-W, but are flexible and are exploring suitable properties on the outskirts of K-W or in urban Guelph.  They have an active group of people who have a fairly clear and united idea of what they want, though their progress is, at times, frustratingly slow.

The London Cohousing Initiative has been having meetings every 2 weeks since October, and seem to be moving forward, creating committees and discussing Values and Mission Statements.  It is unclear what their numbers are, but they seem to be making progress.

Wine on the Porch (AKA Toronto co-housing for creative aging) had a couple of well-attended meetings in the spring, but everyone who seemed committed has since dropped out, and the group now consists of the two original couples.  However, they are very active in discussing cohousing information, and seem determined to move forward. Probably a good resource to connect with.

Oakhill Coliving is a 6-unit shared home in Rockwood that is being renovated right now; they have a very active Facebook page but are doing things on a very small scale, with bed-sitting rooms at less than 300 square feet.

Cohoho Cohousing Hamilton doesn’t appear to be moving forward much since the meeting we attended in October, and we didn’t get the sense that we had much overlap in vision with the major players.  But we should still connect with them and share information and resources:

Coliving Canada is a new consulting group, formed by one of people who spoke at the Hamilton meeting and two others.  They held their first information session on senior cohousing in Toronto last week, and the Wine on the Porch people wrote a report on the session:

They might be worth getting in touch with, and if they hold other information sessions, those might we worth attending.

Whole Village, in Caledon is a community that has actually been built, 12 years ago.  They have 11 private apartments with kitchenettes, and a large common house where they share dinners most evenings.  They also run a working 200 acre farm.  This is a very rural ecovillage option, but might be worth a visit.

Group name:

We need to come up with a Facebook page and a website, and for these we need a blurb about who we are, and a name.  

Since we aren’t clear on what we all want, the name probably shouldn’t indicate a location preference, other than perhaps Ontario.

Suggestions for names include:

My first suggestion was Mandeville Commons (which popped into my head as a sort of tribute to Mandy, and because it sounded interesting). I am concerned that it has no real meaning, except to us, and that meaning also does point a bit to the farm location.  There was a philosopher named Bernard Mandeville, who wrote about collective action and cooperation, but his theory that greedy self-interest drives this may be a bit off message.

Another thought is White Trillium Cohousing Group.  This gets across the senior and the Ontario ideas, and the website and Facebook page are available (and could give us a nice logo).

Silver Maple Cohousing Group is a similar thought, but there are already a couple of silver maple websites.

Do these sound too commercial and formal?   We began to wonder if we should go with something more lighthearted like the Cohoho group or Wine on the Porch (these are two local groups).  

A dinner brainstorming session with Mathew, Becky, Sandra, Marc and Kris came up with TFYC Cohousing (The Family You Choose), but that didn’t quite feel right.  Stealing a page from the Wine on the Porch group, we then came up with Sunsets on the Deck, which feels like a pretty good encapsulation of the shared, fun, active, non-urban lifestyle we are looking for (and also works as a reference to our senior years).  Thoughts?

We don’t have to keep the name forever; we just need something that is distinctive and feels right for the community-building portion of the process.

Group description:

What do we want to say about ourselves?  Do we emphasize the senior concept?  How do we describe that we can’t really decide where we want to be (both specific location and the near town/rural issue) but see ourselves (sort of) as a group. Do we talk about the fact that our group at this point is a bunch of friends who have known each other for decades?  Perhaps we start with our origin story, describing our desire to make something happen but emphasizing that we are just starting out, and want to meet like-minded people and move forward with them.

Here is my first draft suggestion for our blurb:

“When friends gather, the talk often turns to the future, to our senior years, and what we want those to look like. Recently, for many of us, those conversations have become more focused, more serious, and we have become intrigued by the concept of cohousing.  In our case, this has happened with a group that has known each other for more than 3 decades, mostly as friends from university.  As also often happens when you gather with friends, we don’t entirely agree on what our vision is.

Here’s what we do agree on.  We want to live in a community of people who care about each other’s well-being, who will be there in times of trouble, to listen, to lend a hand, or provide a shoulder to cry on.  We want to eat good food, drink good wine, laugh, play music, talk about the things that excite or infuriate us, share the activities we enjoy.  We want to hang out together and watch sunsets on the deck.

We all have ties to Ontario, and although we have spread out to various locations over the years, we’re pretty sure we want to find a site somewhere in southern Ontario.  We have agreed that we don’t want to be in a big city, and that we want enough space to each have our own independent living quarters, a large common area, and lots of outdoor space for decks, gardens, and outdoor activities.  We aren’t entirely sure if we want to be on the outskirts of a smaller city, with access to restaurants, entertainment and services, or somewhere more rural, perhaps on a lake, where we can also go for long paddles or walks with our dogs.  It would be nice to be within reasonable driving distance of an international airport.

We do know that we would like to connect with other, like-minded people who are interested in exploring cohousing options for active adults who are approaching their senior years and want to have some control over their living arrangements as they age.  We want to start the conversations that will allow each of us to figure out what we are really looking for and whether there are others that share the same vision.”

Any thoughts or suggestions about this description?  Do you agree with everything that I’ve said?

Other questions:

Once we’ve decided on a name and description, we need to set up a website and a Facebook page.  What is the best, easiest way to build a website that multiple members can contribute to? What do we want to put on the website (reports from cohousing community visits, past meeting notes, surveys, financial reports. etc)?

Do we want a Facebook group or a page?  A group allows us to restrict and approve membership and comments if we wish.  Are there any other advantages/disadvantages to either approach?

Do we want to use any other social media approaches?  If we decide to host a gathering, we could set up a Meetup group.

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