Monday, July 02, 2007

Dharmahouse in Santa Fe?

For some time I have been considering the development of a contemplative and sustainable living based household here in Santa Fe.

I am a full time student looking to live in a household where meditative and healthy living is a central focus to those living in it. We could combine resources to make living well much more easier. Gardening/permaculture, Community-supported agriculture, along with other aspects of living where combined forces will ease our efforts.

I invite anyone interested and/or has any ideas on this topic to share here. I hope that something will develop along these lines.

Below I have posted some info and a link to a community that is doing some of the things that I am thinking of. This is a dharma house in France, they own the land, but I don't see why we couldn't begin by renting a house and in time consider the development of a larger community.

The Dharmahouse community project

In May 2006 the community moved in and started to live together in an 8 acre property in southern France. The property was previously a farm, and gave us a great opportunity to start to explore our desire for community living in the context of natural surroundings. We started to experiment with growing our own food using ideas based in natural and synergistic agricultural systems. We have also started to explore ecological and sustainable building techniques as a basis for future community building. The present property is serving as a springboard and small-scale temporary model for community living. Our main goal is to establish a co-housing community based around the teachings of the Buddha and environmental concern. Why did we choose Cohousing? And what is it? To start with a dictionary definition Cohousing is:

"a type of collaborative housing that attempts to overcome the alienation of modern subdivisions in which no-one knows their neighbours, and there is no sense of community. It is characterized by private dwellings with their own kitchen, living-dining room etc, but also extensive common facilities. The common building may include a large dining room, kitchen, lounges, meeting rooms, recreation facilities, library, workshops, childcare."

The concept of Cohousing was first established in Denmark in the 1970s; catalysed by frustration at the isolation and impracticality of modern day housing designs, cohousing became an attempt to redefine how our living arrangements can support and develop our human relationships. Taking inspiration from different cultures and traditional village settings, the concept of cohousing is now being developed across Europe, north America, Australasia, and eastern Asia.

Expanding on this definition of cohousing within the context of the Dharma, we are seeking a ‘practicing neighbourhood’, a sangha to provide nurturing and supportive conditions for our spiritual lives. Our common building could perhaps be a Dharma hall, to again support our practice, where we could come together to share, discuss, meditate and support each other. This could also be a place where Dharma teachers could come and lead retreats from time to time.

In the on-going development of this project we are keen to discuss the social, economic and environmental aspects of cohousing. What follows are some of the benefits of cohousing and also some of the issues that we will be looking at in our discussions when we come together in August of this year (1st-5th). I am sure many more questions and discussions will be raised when we meet, this will give us a chance to inquire into what best direction we can take this project in the years to come. A chance to dip in to the sea of possibility! Maybe a few different visions of community will emerge from these discussions, maybe a few different communities could start - the beginnings of small network?

Let's see……


Raines said...

A very exciting vision -- thanks for sharing it!

Have you connected with the existing cohousing neighborhoods in Santa Fe? Tres Placitas del Rio and Commons on the Alameda are examples of retrofit-model and new-build, respectively, with lots to learn from in terms of process and construction, techniques and experiences. There's also the new ElderGrace senior cohousing under development, by an affordable-housing developer... and other ecovillage-style efforts in Albuquerque.

Raines Cohen, Cohousing Coach
Planning for Sustainable Communities
Berkeley, CA, but likely visiting your fair city in early October

tortugo23 said...

Thanks for the heads up on the local cohousing. I did investigate some but they seemed a bit too bourgeois for what I had in mind. Maybe I should look again.

I am pretty open with how this might begin, but I have a more "poor students uniting to make living in this city a bit easier" idea. This along with a contemplative focus to the household. There are several colleges in town, including chinese medicine and body work schools. I am sure this first step would be pretty easy to take.

I have lived in many household similar to this idea, but with less focus. I see it also as a bit of an imitation of how the mexicans are getting by here in the states.

A unified and focused group could do pretty well here.

This is still in the idea stage for me, so check back to this blog for updates and further development on the subject.

Any ideas that you or anyone else has are most welcome.

Thank you,