Proclaiming the Good News of God in Christ

Fr. John Schaefer: Invitation to Investigate Co-Housing

Omaha Green Cohousing Plan

Omaha Green Cohousing Plan

The Rev. John and Margaret Schaefer are involved in a process in the Omaha area to create a Cohousing community. Fr. John is the rector of St. Andrew’s in Omaha. Both John and Margaret hope that more Episcopalians will consider cohousing as a way to create intentional community. Cohousing is a type of intentional community which has been successful in creating the feeling of traditional neighborhoods where you get to know your neighbors. Many have been successfully created across the United States and the world. Cohousing pairs private ownership of homes with extensive shared facilities, including a common house. Homes can be smaller because places like guest rooms, which are used infrequently, are aggregated in the common house. Residents share these spaces as well as other resources, which are chosen by what is called a ‘Forming Group’ during the planning process. This group helps design the community, and ultimately decides how the community will function. In cohousing, there is typically an optional shared meal once a week in the common house because it is an effective way for neighbors to get to know each other. The common house usually has a large kitchen and a large dining room to facilitate the weekly meal.

Due to the focus on sharing resources, cohousing can be less expensive to live in than other housing alternative Rather than have 50 lawnmowers in a community, you might only need a few. There often are tools, books or digital media held in common. Some cohousing residents even share cars. The average cost to own and operate a car in the United States is over $9,000 per year, making car-sharing programs popular in many cohousing communities.

“Omaha Green Cohousing” is forming a cohousing community in Omaha. We recently signed a purchase agreement on 4 acres of land in the Keystone area of Omaha (8557 Boyd Street). On this 4 acres, we’ve proposed putting 32 town-home units (1,200 square feet each) and16 ‘tiny houses’ (600 square feet each). In addition, current plans include a common house, greenhouse, community gardens, dog run, orchard, and other amenities with a focus on sustainability and net zero energy use. We have experienced tremendous interest in the project and are currently growing a Forming Group. This is an exciting time, because the group is engaged in the creating of a community. Part of this is deciding how to live together—and also deciding what the neighborhood will look like and how it will function. One of the benefits to joining now is you get to be part of the process of designing the community with the architect: What will the neighborhood look like? How do we site the homes? What features do we want in our Common House? These are to be answered by our Forming Group.

If you have a passion for building community and for living sustainably, you might enjoy being in cohousing. For more information, check out our site on Facebook (Omaha Green Cohousing or https://www.facebook.com/PapillionCohousing) Meetings occur at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church 925 S. 84th St. on the corner of Pacific and 84th in Omaha. For meeting times and more information, please contact Fr. John Schaefer john@standrewsomaha.org or his cell phone: (402) 690-0991. For general information, please visit http://www.cohousing.org.

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