This article is part of a 4-part series. In it, we give you the rundown from our visit to Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill NC during the 2017 National Cohousing Open House, presented by Coho/US. To read other parts in the series, please see the bottom of the page for links.
From their site:
Arcadia is a pedestrian-oriented residential cohousing community on 16 acres of wooded land. The 33 individually owned homes are clustered on five acres around the centrally located common house. The remaining land is held in common, including woods, pond, stream, organic gardens, outdoor play spaces, and the common house with kitchen, dining area, guest rooms, playroom, office, laundry room, and storage areas. The majority of homes have a passive solar design and the common areas are handicapped accessible. We are located near rural areas about three miles from the towns of Carrboro and Chapel Hill.
By the time we got to Arcadia, we were hot, tired, and moving pretty slowly, but it was the perfect place to be. We walked into the cool, quiet, spacious common house and refreshed ourselves with juice and cookies. They have these interminably cute quilted patches, each representing a family’s household, that line the upper border of the dining room. Our lovely tour guide, Larisa, told us she hopes to one day make them into one giant quilt!
We split up and took leisurely tours around the grounds, trading off kids now and then. They got to enjoy the playground, because they somehow re-energized themselves, and even got to feed the chickens. The homes here were built in the mid 90s, and though they vary in sizes, they were all designed by the same architect, and you can feel the flow as you walk between the houses. This community had paved paths that led to each patio, and parking on the exterior, to avoid cars driving through the interior and disrupting the kids. It felt safe and cozy. In 20 plus year, the landscape that’s grown up around them is mature and flourishing, and it looked as though most residents had a green thumb.
Arcadia had a friendly, laid back atmosphere, where residents happily stopped and chatted with the tour groups, and one even gave us a personal tour of his home bakery! Just because we were interested, and around. Larisa told us that before they moved in, her and her husband would come to visit and swear they were only going to stay a few hours, only to discover that they stayed much later than they intended every time. It’s that kind of place, where time becomes a fuzzy concept, as you sit and chat away the afternoon with interesting people, and occasionally jump on the swing with the kids.
There, they called their community participation “sweat equity”, which I thought was cute. Deciding how, when, and how much involvement each person has in the community can always be contentious, as we’d learned before. The idea – the hope – is that you’ll put in what you’re able, when you’re able, but it’s never that simple.
We eventually pried ourselves away, but we look forward to visiting again, and maybe losing track of a few more hours one lazy afternoon.
Click below to jump to part(s) 1, 2 & 4