Bringing cohousing to Northfield

I took a trip to California recently in pursuit of my goal of developing a carbon-neutral cohousing project on the outskirts of Northfield. A sizable group of potential cohousers has been meeting here since I first introduced the concept at an April 30th meeting.

I’ve learned the past few months that most people are unfamiliar with cohousing. It’s nothing particularly mysterious or exotic. In the words of the Cohousing Association of the US, “Cohousing communities are old-fashioned neighborhoods created with a little ingenuity. They bring together the value of private homes with the benefits of more sustainable living. That means common facilities and good connections with neighbors. All in all, they stand as innovative answers to today’s environmental and social problems.” There are over 100 existing cohousing communities in the US (mostly in northern California, Washington state, Colorado, and New England).

In California, I attended a highly informative two-day “Getting it Built” workshop focusing on the nuts and bolts of what it takes to plan, finance and build a cohousing community. The workshop was presented by CoHousing Partners, a firm started by cohousing pioneers Kathryn McCamant (McCamant & Durrett Architects) and Jim Leach (Wonderland Hill Development Company).

After the workshop, I spent a full morning meeting with Katie McCamant and her husband/architectural partner Chuck Durrett to discuss a possible collaboration in developing Buffalo Commons Village here in Northfield. I met with Chuck and Katie in Nevada City, California, a small town in the Sierra foothills where they live in a cohousing community they developed several years ago. I was also given a tour of Nevada City Cohousing by Chuck, and was thoroughly impressed by what I saw, and the enthusiasm of community members I had a chance to talk with. Click here for a Nevada City Cohousing slide show.

The result of the meeting was a formal proposal from Katie and Chuck to provide development consulting and architectural design services. I’ll be bringing this full proposal to the Buffalo Commons forming group, currently comprised of about 15 households. The first major decision for the group, to bring Katie and Chuck to Northfield for a two-day (all-day Saturday, half-day Sunday) “Getting it Built” workshop the weekend of November 8th and 9th, was already made at a recent Buffalo Commons business meeting. Chuck and Katie will also provide an introductory cohousing presentation the evening of Friday, November 7th. Details will be forthcoming shortly. The wheels are turning on bringing cohousing to Northfield!


  1. Bob Hardman
    Posted September 19, 2008 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Dear Bruce, I have made it through my surgery and doing OK. I plan to be at Tues. mtg. We unfortunately will be away on Oct. 8 so will miss the meeting with Ka tie and Chuck (people we met in Colorado and planned to have them to our cohousing grp. , but unfortunately panned out). Look forward to meeting you.

  2. Posted September 19, 2008 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Glad to hear you’re doing well, Bob. I’m looking forward to meeting you next Tuesday!

    Katie and Chuck will be here the weekend of November 7-9, not October, by the way. They are terrific folks: committed to cohousing, highly experienced, knowledgeable and professional, motivational, yet down-to-earth. Well worth the price of admission!

  3. Neil Planchon
    Posted September 19, 2008 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations Bruce…

    From my vantage point, it looks like you are making the right decisions. I am delighted to hear that your meeting with Katie and Chuck resulted in an early November “Getting it Built” workshop, in Northfield. I believe it will educate, nourish and motivate the Buffalo Commons Village project. A great next step… All the best to you, yours and all those future cohousing residents.

    And your pictures of Nevada City Cohousing are fantastic! Thank you…

    May you be well….
    Neil Planchon – an ally – who took the 2-day workshop with you 2 weeks ago now!

    Founding Member, Resident and Webmaster – Swan’s Market Cohousing – Oakland CA

    Cohousing Bus Tour Team – Cohousing Association of the United States


    “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Lao Tzu

  4. Doug McElroy
    Posted July 16, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    It seems that all your blogs and/or info is dated backk a couple/few years…do you still have intentions to build a co-housing project near Northfield?

  5. Posted July 31, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    The cohousing project is on indefinite hold — the idea certainly isn’t dead, but it’s dormant for the time being. A group of folks formerly participating in the Buffalo Commons forming group created another Northfield-area cohousing group which you may want to check out. See for more info. (How active that group is, I can’t say. I haven’t heard anything from them recently.)

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