Welcome to the website for Kawartha Commons, the Peterborough Cohousing group! Although the concept of cohousing has been discussed by many of us for a number of years, the group as currently configured began meeting on December 27th 2017 (with a party, naturally – we are all about social interaction, after all). This was followed by a workshop in early February, and meetings began in earnest in late February. We currently have business meetings once a month, and also hold “Discovery Circle” learning sessions once a month. Together, we are learning about how cohousing works and what is involved in creating a community.
Here’s the mission statement for our group:
“Kawartha Commons is a self-organizing group committed to design, build and manage, by 2023, a 10 to 30 unit sustainable, accessible cohousing community within easy reach of central Peterborough, yet close to nature. Our intention is to move forward with open and honest communication, making all efforts to understand and resolve differences, and is motivated by our wish to create an inclusive, diverse and caring community open to a range of financial situations, which supports us in choosing our own destiny.”
You can find more information about our group and what we do by using the menu items at the top of this page. You can see a brief description of what cohousing is, as well as a page with information about some of the visits that members of Kawartha Commons have made to more than a dozen different cohousing communities across North America, and you can see a breakdown of some of the events we have had and new ones that are upcoming.
You can also read some helpful documents and websites we’ve found about cohousing and how different communities are approaching it on our Resources page. And if you want to see some of the progress we’ve been making, you can read a summary of the minutes from some of our most recent meetings. We also recently produced a colour brochure that gives an overview of the cohousing movement and the goals and aspirations of our group, which you can see here.
One of the things we’ve been investigating as part of our cohousing journey is a new form of governance that seems to work well for such groups, known as Sociocracy. It focuses on consent-based decision-making instead of consensus-based (which is difficult for large groups) and also puts a major emphasis on listening and non-violent communication. There’s more info here: What Is Sociocracy.
News: We’ve started a fundraising drive for anyone who is either thinking of joining the Kawartha Commons cohousing project, or merely wants to support the group because they believe in cohousing and want to see it come to life in the Peterborough area. If you fall into either one of those groups, please see our donation page.
Six of our members attended the Northeast Cohousing Summit in Amherst Massachusetts from September 21-23, 2018. They returned with lots of new ideas gathered from the conference sessions and cohousing community tours, and especially from the full and half day intensive workshops. They shared these insights at our first learning session, held on Sunday October 14th, at Activity Haven in Peterborough. You can find out more about that session, including detailed reports on each of the workshops that they attended, on this page.
Our group had a public event at The Mount in Peterborough on Tuesday, June 19 that was attended by about 70 people interested in the idea of cohousing. Scott Donovan opened with a short presentation giving an overview of the concept, then Kris Robinson Staveley talked about some of what she has learned by visiting almost a dozen cohousing communities in the US and Canada, and Elaine Rutherford described what it was like to live in the Windsong cohousing community in BC for 15 years.
Finally, Al Slavin spoke about some of the things that got him thinking about cohousing as a potential future, and then the group shared some snacks and refreshments. You can see the presentations by Al, Scott and Kris embedded on this page and you can see some photos of the event here.
An article about our group was also published in Electric City magazine on June 5th, entitled “Kawartha Cohousing Wants to Build Peterborough’s First Cohousing Community.” Here’s an excerpt:
“Organizing around the name Kawartha Cohousing, the group is hoping to design and build a living facility that will be owned and managed cooperatively, though it will include private rooms in order to balance residents’ needs for privacy as well as community. If the group is successful, it will be the first housing development of its kind in the city, and one of only a handful in Ontario.
The team has formed working groups to explore issues like bylaws, finances, development regulations, and the like. They intend to make decisions cooperatively as they develop their plans, and they’re excited to be envisioning and designing their building from scratch. “Most successful cohousing is community first, and then building second,” Al Slavin says.”
Here’s a calendar of our upcoming events: