On December 20, Matt and I met with Sarah Arthurs, a resident of Prairie Sky Cohousing Cooperative in Calgary, Alberta (while we were visiting family in Calgary). The Prairie Sky Community consists of 18 units and has been in existence for 13 years. I had discovered Sarah when I began researching the spread of the Abundant Community model to Calgary.
I contacted Sarah to see if we could meet with her to learn about her work in community development as well as to learn more about Prairie Sky. She graciously invited us to meet her at the Prairie Sky Common House.
Cohousing developed in Denmark in the 1960’s and spread to North America in the late 80s. Why cohousing? Community, sustainability, and affordability are some of the founding principles. The Cohousing Association of the United States describes cohousing as “an intentional community of private homes clustered around shared space. Each attached or single family home has traditional amenities, including a private kitchen. Shared spaces typically feature a common house, which may include a large kitchen and dining area, laundry, and recreational spaces. Shared outdoor space may include parking, walkways, open space, and gardens. Neighbors also share resources like tools and lawnmowers.” I love how something as simple as shared community parking fosters neighbor interactions.
It is interesting to explore the idea of cohousing and how it might intersect with neighborliness in general. What elements of cohousing are present in the Abundant Community model? How does cohousing impact social capital? My first response is that both concepts have a wonderful benefit of neighbors caring for each other rather than having to bring in outside resources.
Finally, I must confess that Prairie Sky had me at the word play. When I was reading and rereading the pages of their site, I loved the “How we Play” tab! Music and ping pong - how great are those! And then, when we visited, we couldn’t help but notice the community-built, multi-colored ice block igloo outside the Common House!