Building a sense of community, stewardship and sharing through cohousing communities: can alternative ways of living and making decisions found within intentional communities scale up? How?
Heartwood Cohousing is one of many cohousing communities throughout the world. There are about 150 in the USA alone. Heartwood’s goal is to recreate an old-fashioned neighbourhood where neighbours cooperate to live more sustainably. Heartwood has 100 hectares of land, 25 irrigated, with an organic farm that helps to feed the community.
This cohousing community encourages sustainability by sharing resources, building efficiently and by encouraging use of renewable energy sources (mostly passive solar). Homes are in a cluster and much of the land is left undeveloped for the use of wildlife–including black bears, deer, elk and pumas. Cohousing is an efficient, friendly way for people to live. Heartwood Cohousing has the additional advantage of fertile farmland. Decision-making is by consensus and there are specific agreements and philosophies that are important to the culture of this community. Living according to a shared vision and set of values allows for a very different way of life than is available in mainstream societies.
Heartland encourage visitors, and they state that many of these visitors marvel at their way of life. There are also farming interns who may, in turn, move on to be involved in organic food production. This model has been replicated in other parts of the world, but is often adjusted for specific contexts.